New collaboration between MSU, UM prepares grads for complex health care careers

BOZEMAN — A new collaboration between Montana State University and the University of Montana is designed to prepare graduates for careers in the complex, interconnected health care system.

The program is called the Montana University System Institute for Interprofessional Education and Collaborative Practice in Health and Medicine, or the MUS IPE Institute. It was approved by the Montana Board of Regents in May.

“Traditionally, students in health care fields are trained in professional silos, yet they are expected to function in complex health care systems that require cross-disciplinary work and collaboration,” said Kathy Jutila, interim director of the MSU Division of Health Sciences. “A sharper focus on interprofessional education among MUS health profession programs will better prepare graduates for the demands of 21st century health care workforce.”

Jutila added that while team-based care is important in all settings, it is especially critical in rural health care settings, where resource limitations especially demand high functioning interprofessional collaboration.

Reed Humphrey, dean of UM’s College of Health Professions and Biomedical Sciences, said the new institute reflects the skills needed in modern health care.

“To truly treat a patient holistically, healthcare requires more than one discipline  ̶ medicine, nursing, social work, physical therapy and more  ̶  to address patient health issues,” Humphrey said. “The collaborative skills are necessary for today’s health care workforce.”

The institute is designed to provide faculty members at MSU and UM with teaching and learning resources so that they are better equipped to help students and graduates succeed. Among other efforts, it will coordinate interprofessional opportunities between health care educational programs on MUS campuses and serve as a conduit between clinical sites and academic programs.

At MSU, the primary units that will be responsible for co-leading the institute are the Division of Health Sciences and the MSU College of Nursing. At UM, efforts will be led by its College of Health Professions and Biomedical Sciences.

MSU’s Division of Health Sciences works to advance health sciences at MSU in order to improve the well-being of diverse peoples in the state of Montana. Currently, there are more than 40 successful health-related departments, programs and centers affiliated with the division, including the only medical school in the state.

At MSU, professional programs involved in the IPE Institute include the following:

  • The WWAMI Medical Education Program, a cooperative medical education program that allows students from Washington, Wyoming, Alaska, Montana and Idaho to pay in-state tuition while earning medical degrees from University of Washington’s top-ranking School of Medicine. Before completing their degrees with training at UW’s Seattle campus and medical rotations in the WWAMI region, Montana students spend 18 months receiving instruction from MSU professors as well as physicians at Bozeman Health. In 2013, the Montana Legislature approved a permanent expansion of the WWAMI program from 20 to 30 students annually.
  • The College of Nursing, which trains students to be professional registered nurses. It is also Montana’s only public provider of graduate nursing education and offers a Master of Nursing degree focused on rural clinical nurse leadership and a doctor of nursing practice program that prepares students for certification as family nurse practitioners or psychiatric mental health nurse practitioners. The MSU College of Nursing educates students on five campuses– Bozeman, Billings, Great Falls, Kalispell and Missoula.
  • The Washington, Idaho, Montana and Utah Regional Program in Veterinary Medicine. Known as WIMU, students begin their first year of the regional program in Bozeman, housed in the College of Agriculture. Students then complete the final three years of their doctor of veterinary medicine degrees at Washington State University in Pullman. 
  • The Montana Medical Laboratory Scientist Professional Program, which trains health care providers to perform laboratory analyses used in the diagnosis and treatment of disease and maintenance of health.
  • Didactic Program in Nutrition and Dietetics in the Department of Health and Human Development. The program fulfills one requirement for those pursuing licensure as a registered dietician.
  • Counseling graduate programs in the Department of Health and Human Development, which lead to the opportunity to become licensed in Montana as a licensed clinical professional counselor. The department also offers a graduate certificate in addiction counseling, which may be counted toward the Montana Licensed Addiction Counselor Credential.
  • RIDE clinical dental training, a regional dental training program offered in partnership with the University of Washington.
  • The College of Allied Health Professions at MSU Billings.

Through the College of Education, Health and Human Development’s Department of Health and Human Development, MSU also offers majors in community healthfood and nutrition and early childhood education and child services, as well as a gerontology certificate.

While the institute will be initially housed and staffed at MSU and UM, it is intended to be a statewide resource for health profession programs. The institute’s activities and services are expected to be extended to all MUS health profession programs within five years.

“Ultimately, this institute will benefit not only students from MSU and across the Montana University System, but patients and the entire health care industry in Montana and nationally,” Jutila said. “We’re very excited about it.”

More information about the MSU Division of Health Sciences is available at

First-year WWAMI medical students practice exam skiils in a class in a new facility at Bozeman Deaconess Hospital. MSU photo by Kelly Gorham

Via Montana State University News

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