It was a victorious trifecta for Texas A&M College of Dentistry as students and faculty picked up several Interprofessional Education Excellence Awards at the annual IPER 6 Interprofessional Education and Research Symposium. Awardees are chosen for their direct impact on Texas A&M University Health Science Center students’ interprofessional learning.
“Wins in three different categories is unprecedented,” says Lisa Mallonee, tenured professor and graduate program director for the Caruth School of Dental Hygiene. “I was very proud and honored by the notable representation of COD’s family of faculty and students receiving accolades.”
Mallonee, who also served as a panelist, won the Teaching Award for Interprofessional Excellence. Dr. Crystal Stinson, assistant professor in public health sciences/biomedical sciences, earned the Leadership Award for Interprofessional Excellence. Student organization IRON (Interprofessional Relationship Outreach Network) brought home the Student Leadership Award for Interprofessional Excellence.
D3 Jill Meado, IRON president and co-founder, oversees student representatives from each Texas A&M Health school, including medicine, nursing, pharmacy, public health and dentistry. IRON was formed and chartered by students last summer to strengthen interprofessional collaboration between Texas A&M Health students on various campuses. This connection helps communities achieve optimal health across health care disciplines.
“This organization has been a year in the making, and to see the efforts of our work recognized is humbling. I view the award as a sort of support for our mission,” Meado says.
Students scattered across the state have spent months planning IRON via text and Zoom meetings. They also completed training and wrote a constitution to satisfy Texas A&M University student organization requirements.
“Since it took a year to make it a reality, we have had to say goodbye to some of the founders as they have graduated,” Meado says. “So I stepped up for the role of president to see the organization through its first year in order to carry out the idea the founders had behind IRON.”
Mallonee’s expertise as both a registered dietitian and registered dental hygienist has been a natural fit in bridging health care disciplines. She teaches public/community health courses and gives nutrition lectures to dental hygiene and predoctoral dental students. As co-director of postgraduate dental hygienists pursuing their master’s degree in education for healthcare professionals, she also oversees practicum placement, thesis research and non-thesis project development.
“This interprofessional Master of Science degree produces graduates to help satisfy the need for qualified teaching faculty in many health professions, including nursing, medicine, pharmacy, dental and dental hygiene schools across the country,” she says.
Mallonee’s additional role as a preceptor for the Baylor University Medical Center Dietetic Internship Program and the UT Southwestern Master of Clinical Nutrition Coordinated Program in particular lend themselves to IPE. Most recently she has established a relationship with the University of North Texas Health Science Center at Fort Worth School of Health Professions Physician Assistant Studies program as an invited lecturer.
The College of Dentistry emphasizes and promotes IPE for all researchers and leaders at the dental school “to deliver high quality care, superior education and exemplary research,” Stinson says. She prioritizes research projects and education components that will have the greatest impact on public health and expand quality of care.
Winning an IPER award highlights that focus while also encouraging more interprofessional teamwork, she says, which sparks new ideas and collaboration.
“When faculty continue to exemplify the importance of IPE and how it improves health outcomes for our patients, it motivates the entire college to continue to contribute and build a strong foundation in interprofessional education and research,” she says.
Former summer research student Brenden Manley nominated Stinson for her award, which she says made it even more significant.
“As a junior faculty, you wonder often if your work or mentorship has an impact on the students you teach, the research you conduct and the leadership that you portray,” she says. “Receiving the award meant I was successful in building a notable IPER platform, which is a passion and core value of the work that I do.”