Emerging Innovation: IPE Integrative Mental Health Focus Area

Innovation involves the transformation of ideas.

The Interprofessional (IPE) Integrative Mental Health Focus Area is an educational project involving students from the University of Minnesota School of Nursing and College of Pharmacy to address health care needs of persons with multiple chronic conditions (including severe and persistent mental health diagnoses) utilizing both an innovative model of IPE and a designated focus area. Focus areas are a new component of the MN-COP curriculum and are made up of at least three elective courses, with both didactic and experiential components.


Description of Emerging Innovation

The IPE Integrative Mental Health Focus Area is a nursing-led initiative from the Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) psychiatric program. Pharmacy, and later Occupational Therapy, were invited to join to provide a more comprehensive wellness team for people with multiple chronic conditions.

The creation of the IPE Integrative Mental Health Focus Area involved significant curricular development for both DNP and pharmacy programs. The focus area for pharmacy students consists of two consecutive elective courses (Foundations for Integrative Mental Health and Psychiatric Practice and Assessment and Management of Psychiatric Disorders) followed by an elective Advanced Pharmacy Practice Experience (APPE) in a specialty mental health practice setting.

Each curriculum was augmented with integrative mental health content and simulation experiences. In addition, educational experiences were developed with partner sites. Implementation of the mental health focus area has begun and the team feels fortunate to have dedicated partners willing to work through the challenging development and implementation stages in order to provide a caring experience to a broad population of Minnesota citizens.

Amy Pittenger, Team Member

Why was this innovation needed?

Patients with persistent mental health conditions die 25 years sooner, on average, than patients without mental health diagnoses. This dramatic decrease in life expectancy is due to their other primary care conditions, not the persistent mental health conditions. There are a lot of people across the the state of Minnesota who do not receive comprehensive and cohesive mental health and primary health care.

How does the innovation meet this need?

The team leaders of the IPE Integrative Mental Health Focus Area recognized this an opportunity for intentional, interprofessional education. An interprofessional team of a DNP psychiatric nurse and generalist pharmacist, with extra education and training in mental health, is a powerful and innovative way to provide comprehensive and compassionate care to many with multiple chronic conditions and persistent mental health conditions who have traditionally received disjointed and unsuccessful care.

Stay tuned for future posts about the innovative way learners from these programs were combined and the process of linking courses with community experiences!

For more information:
Pharmacy Team Members:
Amy Pittenger, Pharm.D., Ph.D.
Danielle Bishop, Pharm.D.

Nursing Team Members:
Merrie Kaas, Ph.D., MSN, BSN
Barb Peterson, Ph.D., CNS

Occupational Therapy Team Members:
Chris Bourland, MHA, OTR/L
Terrianne Jones, MHS, OTR/L

The Mental Health IPE Collaboration also works closely with clinical partners, Touchstone Mental Health and the Wilder Foundation.