PROVIDENCE, R.I. [Brown University] — New models of health care delivery, such as the patient-centered medical home, call for a team-based approach from providers, so it makes sense that the education of those professionals include elements of that teamwork. To advance that principle, the Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University and Johnson & Wales University have signed a memorandum of understanding to explore collaborations between Brown’s M.D. and JWU’s new physician assistant education programs.
The agreement, signed earlier this month, outlines several areas for potential cooperation including sharing training facilities, jointly arranging lectures, pursuing educational grants, and engaging in cost-sharing.
“The new model of health care is patient-focused, IT-driven, and team-based,” said Dr. Edward Wing, dean of medicine and biological science at Brown. “Alpert Medical School is fortunate to partner with JWU to explore interdisciplinary training opportunities with its physician assistant program. This new collaboration makes good sense as we work toward expanding the entire health care workforce in Rhode Island and beyond.”
Recognizing the increasing patient care responsibilities being placed on physician assistants, Johnson & Wales has developed a curriculum that emphasizes academic and clinical excellence.
“The collaborative training of physicians, physician assistants, and other members of the interprofessional health care team is an evolving national educational initiative,” said Dr. George Bottomley, director of JWU’s Center for Physician Assistant Studies. “We look forward to our partnership with the Alpert Medical School and the development of a patient-centered, humanistic learning model that will serve our students and their future patients.”
Jeffrey Senese, JWU vice president of academic affairs, said, “We see this as a great opportunity for the Center for Physician Assistant Studies at Johnson & Wales to work closely with Brown’s Alpert Medical School. Our two institutions have strong mutual interests and compatibilities in the area of primary care education that should well serve the community, our students, and our great universities. We are thrilled to have the honor of working with them and with the health care community in Rhode Island and beyond.”
Proximity of facilities and interests
The agreement comes at a time when both universities have been making major investments in new teaching facilities just blocks away from each other in Providence’s Jewelry District. Brown opened a 130,000-square-foot medical education building at 222 Richmond St. in August 2011. Meanwhile, JWU is renovating an 18,000-square-foot building at 157 Clifford St. that it bought last year for the new PA program.
The two buildings are a mere 1,000 feet apart.
The debut of the JWU’s PA program, the first in Rhode Island, also comes amid greater recognition across the state that interprofessional education will better prepare health care workers for the future of care delivery.
Alpert Medical School, for example, holds interprofessional workshops twice a year that team its M.D. students with students from the University of Rhode Island’s nursing and pharmacy colleges, and Rhode Island College’s nursing and social work schools. Acting as a cohesive care team, the Brown, URI and RIC students diagnose and develop treatment plans for actors playing the role of patients in Alpert Medical School’s simulated doctors’ offices or “clinical skills suites.”
With JWU’s new program for physician assistants and the potential collaborations with Brown, the network of health care professional training opportunities in Rhode Island is set to expand further.