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From I to We: The Magic of Teams

I was asked to speak at the first advanced IPEC Institute in October this year. Academic-Practice teams come to IPEC workshops from all over the US to work on growing their interprofessional programs. IPEC is the Interprofessional Education Collaborative that brought us the national interprofessional competencies.  It is now made up of 19 accreditation organizations across many different health professions programs.

From building and learning to sharing

The topic for my talk was integrating IPEC competencies in interprofessional learning. Since we use IPEC in every one of the learning materials we’ve developed in CAIPER – from eLearning modules to train the trainer workshops for practitioners – this seemed like a great opportunity to showcase our programs and more importantly, to share what we have learned. 

I started thinking what might be useful to say to the IPEC audience – and how to do it in a total of 30 minutes. It was clear to me that our CAIPER team had developed an outstanding portfolio we could share. And boy, did we have lessons. Along the way, I had learned that creating competency-based learning objects is quite an undertaking – and takes the knowledge, enthusiasm, and support of every member of CAIPER. 

Digging deep for a new approach to team collaboration

So I set out to involve everyone in CAIPER who wanted to be involved in crafting the IPEC presentation. It’s not that I haven’t asked for input or help before, but this time I wanted something deeper, more organic, and reflective of much more than my solo voice. It seemed time to walk a deeper talk of teamwork in my presentations – to engage everyone who had been so important to this work, to invite diverse perspectives, and to acknowledge the educational programs as products of a high performing team. I wanted more than just to represent my team. It felt important to tell the story and lessons of this work in the voice of my team.

Team storytelling = rainbows and richness!

I started with an outline of what I thought we might include – notice the shift from I to we here. I figured we needed a net for everyone to throw in ideas. And...everyone responded. Some right away – others, as they are wont to do, needed time to think and build on what others were thinking. By the end of a week, we had several pages in a rainbow of track changes adding new ideas, telling each other “don’t forget this” and “what about this?”

The outline had morphed into a team story. Everyone contributed recollections of special moments and key insights. I had forgotten many of the experiences that came up – some I had never recognized as happening at the time. The richness of the story and the ease with which everyone wove the pieces together probably shouldn’t have surprised and touched me as deeply, but it did.

This is teamwork in living, breathing colors. We often use the pithy phrase “teams are more than a sum of their parts” to extoll the benefits of teamwork to our students and each other. This experience was definitely greater than one plus one – even more than exponential. It reminded me of why I believe in teamwork. It has the potential for magic! And – the presentation was very well received. 


About the Author

Gerri LambGerri Lamb is the Director of ASU’s Center for Advancing Interprofessional Practice, Education & Research and Professor at the College of Nursing and Health Innovation. She is committed to supporting the growth of interprofessional initiatives at ASU in collaboration with much-valued academic and clinical partners. She also works to connect local and state activities to the national IPE community in her role as past chair of the American Interprofessional Health Collaborative and liaison to the National Center for Interprofessional Practice and Education Nexus Innovations Incubator.

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