Interprofessional education (IPE) is an essential part of graduate education in the discipline of communication sciences and disorders (CSD) to prepare future speech-language pathologists (SLPs) to function as full members of interprofessional collaborative practice (IPP) teams and demonstrate the added value contributed by SLPs. This article describes the graduate IPE program in speech-language pathology developed and implemented at Touro College.

Developing Touro’s IPE Program

Touro’s administration was the initial driving force to establish an IPE committee within the School of Health Sciences. The committee included the following departments: Speech-Language Pathology, Physician’s Assistants, Occupational Therapy, Occupational Therapy Assistants, Nursing, and Physical Therapy. Its charge was to create a vision for the program and engage in planning and subsequent program implementation for students, faculty, and administrators. Each department selected individuals to serve (e.g., department chairs, faculty, deans). Through collaborative efforts toward a common goal, the committee quickly established a sense of community and purpose. All members agreed that the foundation of a high-quality IPE program comprises the four core competencies identified by the Interprofessional Education Collaborative (IPEC, 2016): values/ethics, roles/responsibilities, communication, and teamwork.   

A significant challenge for the committee was to determine the best and most feasible way to bring IPE to Touro’s School of Health Sciences, whose 1,500 students are situated on three campuses. The committee considered the many factors involved in creating a large IPE program, including

  • budget and logistics
  • selection of IPE content         
  • curriculum integration
  • identification of positive student learning outcomes
  • faculty training
  • choice of a capstone experience, and
  • feedback collection 

Deliberations culminated in a three-part initiative: 

  1. education through curricular integration and faculty orientation within each department;
  2. creation of a joint, IPE capstone experience for all graduating students across departments; and
  3. formation of a collaborative central IPE committee to organize, coordinate, and direct all activities

Emerging IPE literature offered guidance for program development (e.g., use of team-based experiences, shared practica, intentional, coordinated planning, online discussions, student recognition, and committed faculty, IPEC, 2016; Johnson, Prelock, & Apel, 2016). Within the speech-language pathology graduate program, the concept of IPP is introduced in the Clinical Methods course required for all incoming graduate students. Similar introduction points are selected by each department.

IPE Symposium

A unique aspect of Touro’s IPE program is the Annual IPE Symposium, which serves as its capstone experience. The committee framed this year’s event around “teamwork to improve healthcare outcomes.” Prior to a symposium, the IPE committee develops a comprehensive, simulated patient case to be embedded into each department’s coursework. The case is then studied by student teams within the “silo” of individual departments in preparation for an IPE discussion during the symposium. This fosters discipline-specific critical thinking, team problem solving and confidence building, and serves as a primary focus for the annual symposium. 

Faculty preparation for the IPE symposium includes a review of the IPEC core competencies, a detailed description of the patient case, specific suggestions for facilitating IPE roundtable discussions, and logistical challenges and solutions. A member of the IPE committee provides each discipline with online, narrated slide presentations, printed downloadable documents, and an IPE workshop. 

At the symposium, a student from each discipline, as well as one faculty facilitator, are seated together at prearranged tables with seating assignments and are engaged in an “icebreaker” activity that encourages informal discussion. Following a brief introduction to the symposium, and a short presentation by an invited guest, the students begin their IPE experience. All student groups are presented with the simulated patient case and are assigned the same tasks. The morning session consists of treatment planning, and the afternoon session centers on discharge planning. Relevant documents (e.g., treatment plan; discharge worksheet) are completed collaboratively by student teams. Each IPE team then presents their results and reflects on the team’s experiences. All symposium stakeholders complete survey forms, and certificates of completion are awarded. Following the symposium, the speech-language pathology students complete discipline-specific survey. The vast majority of students report that IPE is important to case planning and management, strengthens their knowledge and skills as clinicians, and offers them a positive view of themselves as clinicians. All students recommended the continuation of the Annual IPE Symposium as a capstone experience.

The Simulated Case

A critical element of Touro’s collaborative IPE team program is the creation of a patient case that is relevant, motivating, detailed, and realistic. It must provide ample opportunity for the participation of each discipline. (Previous symposium feedback from students and faculty indicated disproportionate input by individual disciplines.) Case development at Touro factors in students’ knowledge base and skills, program curricula, and externship experiences. Once developed, the case study typically is shared with additional faculty for further review and perspective. The benefits of case sharing at Touro were at least twofold: It encouraged faculty involvement, and it promoted further commitment to the symposium.

The most recent case was a 23-year-old man with autism spectrum disorder, a history of seizure disorder, and numerous injuries from a recent motor vehicle accident. Detailed medical information was provided and included emergency room status and test results, documentation of transfer to the operating room for surgery, and data from the initial 24 hours post-op in a surgical step-down unit. Past medical and social history, prior level of function, medications, lab values, and precautions comprise important elements of the case. To encourage analytical thinking and flexibility, student teams received a “Patient Update Status” at the symposium that contained new information. Apraxia, sensory issues, dietary textural aversions, and use of an augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) device were incorporated into the recent case to heighten students’ awareness of the additional challenges that hospitalized individuals with autism may face.

Closing Remarks

ASHA’s Envisioned Future: 2025 (ASHA, n.d.) calls for CSD programs to be integrating IPE into academic and clinical education experiences for students and for ASHA members to be engaging in IPP by 2025. New guidelines for accreditation (effective August 2017) from the Council on Accreditation in Audiology and Speech-Language Pathology (CAA) include standards that allow graduate programs to demonstrate IPE. It is incumbent upon each program to identify its specific needs as well as opportunities and challenges for effective IPE planning, development, and implementation. Touro’s IPE program—with its innovative Annual IPE Symposium—demonstrates that administrative support, practical solutions, and informed, focused collaboration between departments motivate the development of a workable, enduring IPE program.

References and Resources

American Speech-Language-Hearing Association. (n.d.). ASHA’s Envisioned Future: 2025. Retrieved from

American Speech-Language-Hearing Association. (2017). CAA standards for accreditation of graduate education programs in audiology and speech-language pathology (effective August 2017). Retrieved from

Interprofessional Education Collaborative. (2016). Core competencies for interprofessional collaborative practice: Report of an expert panel. Washington, DC: Author. Retrieved from American Speech-Language-Hearing Association. (2016). IPEC core competencies: 2016 [PDF].

Johnson, A., Prelock, P., & Apel, K. (2016). IPE 101: Introduction to interprofessional education and practice for speech-language pathology. In A. Johnson (Ed.), Interprofessional education and interprofessional practice in communication sciences and disorders: An introduction and case-based examples of implementation in education and health care settings. Rockville, MD: American Speech-Language-Hearing Association. Retrieved from [PDF].