Transformative Education
for Health Professionals

Promoting Interprofessional Education through Healthy Competition

Promoting Interprofessional Education through Healthy Competition By Cary Amiel G. Villanueva and Jan Ynav T. Quiz

The Blue Team composed of Jan Philippe H. Tan (Medicine), Dana Lee Acosta (Behavioral Sciences), Hannah M. Pellejo (Physical Therapy), Holymn Faith Buan (Pharmacy) and Karen Joyce Tolentino (Speech Pathology) emerged as the first Mind Meld champions.

Although interprofessional education (IPE) as an approach to health professions education has been around for quite some time, it is a concept that is yet to be institutionalized and mainstreamed in in the Philippines. IPE and collaborative practice have been advocated for years by several authorities, including the World Health Organization, but the avenues available to learn and experience these are limited. For instance, our alma mater, the University of the Philippines (UP) Manila, is one of the few academic institutions in the country with documented experience in IPE as reflected in its community-based health programs.

Our campus, which is one of the several under the UP system, serves as the country’s national health sciences center, focusing on education, research, and service related to the health sciences. UP Manila is host to different colleges where students are trained in various fields of healthcare such as medicine, nursing, pharmacy, dentistry, public health, among others.


Mind Meld 2015 was attended by students from the seven colleges of UP Manila.

Several of us friends came to UP Manila to undergo training in different health professions. Each of our degree programs was unique and prepared students to become experts in a certain aspect of healthcare. But as we underwent training, one important message kept emerging: that we cannot work individually, and therefore we must work as a team in the field. Our professors would repeat that our professions are all about caring for patients -- yet patients are not found inside a classroom. They are out there in the hospital, in the broader community, and once we get out there, we won't be on our own – instead, we will be working alongside different professionals.

And so the walls that divided the colleges did not hinder us from engaging in conversations across health disciplines, wondering how we can synergize our diverse perspectives to address common health challenges, from a complicated case of a patient to cross-cutting systemic problems in healthcare delivery. Those interactions were perhaps the first inklings of our desire to think and collaborate interprofessionally.

Years later, we organized an activity that sought to further IPE and collaborative practice among the colleges of UP Manila, and so “Mind Meld: The First UP Manila Interprofessional Case Competition” was born. This competition aimed to hone skills in collaborative practice among the students and also to highlight the different duties and responsibilities of each profession in the context of an interprofessional healthcare team.


Former UP Manila Community Health and Development Program (CHDP) director Dr. Elizabeth R. Paterno welcomes the participants and audience to the university and the country’s first interprofessional case competition.

Organizing the competition was in itself a test of interprofessional collaboration. A partnership was formed between the student councils of the Colleges of Medicine and Pharmacy in which we were serving at that time. Thus, we became core organizers of this pioneering project together with another medical student, who holds an undergraduate degree in nursing, and another pharmacy student. Enthusiastic about IPE and collaborative practice, we turned to similar student-led case competitions abroad as we develop the contest’s mechanics. However, our organizing team had little personal and actual experience in IPE, so we needed extra advice from experts.


Dr. Louricha Opina-Tan gives an introductory talk on interprofessional education and collaborative practice.

Fortunately, it was easy to get the faculty of the UP Manila Community Health and Development Program (CHDP) on board. Composed of educators from various disciplines such as medicine, pharmacy, nursing, dentistry, occupational therapy and midwifery, this unit has already been implementing IPE in its community-based health programs for years. The faculty graciously accepted our invitation to be part of this project, particularly in formulating the case scenario and serving as judges for the competition. Likewise, it was not difficult to gain support from the university leadership, which also advocates transformative learning and particularly IPE.

Perhaps the biggest challenge we encountered was in recruiting participants, given the novelty of the event and conflicts in class schedules. In the end, Mind Meld was able to form a handful of interprofessional teams from all seven colleges of the university. The four teams tackled the case of NV, an elderly woman born deaf and mute, inspired by a real patient from a rural community. The index patient recently suffered a stroke which rendered her entire left side paralyzed. Because her adopted daughter has her own family to care for, the bedridden NV is forced to move to her older sister’s home. Teams were given three hours to discuss the protocol and prepare their analysis and propositions. They presented their assessment of the patient’s biomedical and psychosocial problems, as well as their management plan to be undertaken by a multidisciplinary healthcare team.

The team that emerged victorious was composed of students studying medicine, pharmacy, physical therapy, speech pathology and behavioral sciences who have all met for the first time during the competition. Perhaps what made this group stand out was how quickly they began to communicate comfortably. Each member gave inputs drawing from the knowledge and skills in their own field, yet during the discussions, they all seemed to be on equal footing with no profession dominating. In addition to the physical health issues of the case, the team also considered the psychosocial and societal dimensions.

Feedback from the contestants was generally positive, with many expressing hope that future competitions will be conducted and that more students from diverse health professions be involved. The contestants also shared how they became more appreciative of other professions while recognizing the limitations of their own profession. Ultimately, they realized how the different health professions actually complement one another. It is interesting that such a healthy competition will make everyone realize the importance of meaningful collaboration in healthcare.

The panel of judges was composed of medicine, pharmacy, dentistry, nursing and occupational therapy faculty and a community organizer of the UP Manila Community Health and Development Program (CHDP). Mr. Roderick L. Salenga, RPh served as its chair.

As student organizers, we too benefited from this learning opportunity. Planning the event was already an exercise in IPE. During the competition, we observed the interactions among participants coming from distinct backgrounds as they tackled the biomedical and psychosocial problems at hand. They sought means to effectively communicate as a team and provided varying solutions to improve the patient’s quality of life.


The core organizers from the 38th UP Medicine Student Council (UP MSC), the University of the Philippines Pharmaceutical Association (UPPhA) and the UP Manila Community Health and Development Program (CHDP) faculty pose with the Mind Meld 2015 participants

The humble success of the Philippines' first interprofessional case competition demonstrates how student-led initiatives can further IPE in a health professions training institution outside the traditional academic curriculum. Further, it gives a glimpse on how such activities have the potential to give students a chance to encounter IPE as a participant, audience member or organizer and ultimately become advocates for interprofessional collaboration and practice. We therefore invite fellow health professions students from around the world to come together, organize similar initiatives, and promote IPE and collaborative practice to improve healthcare delivery in the 21st century.

We thank Dr. Renzo Guinto for his invaluable inputs and feedback.

About the Authors

Cary Amiel G. Villanueva is a medical clerk at the Philippine General Hospital pursuing his Doctor of Medicine degree under the seven-year accelerated Integrated Liberal Arts and Medicine (INTARMED) Program of the University of the Philippines Manila. Amiel was co-head of the Academics and Research Committee of the UP Medicine Student Council. He also writes for UP Medics, the college’s student publication, and is interested in bioethics.

Jan Ynav T. Quiz completed her Bachelor of Science in Industrial Pharmacy cum laude also at the University of the Philippines Manila. During her final year at the university, she was Vice-President of the University of the Philippines Pharmaceutical Association (UPPhA). Janyn now lives in Nashville, Tenessee and is preparing to take the pharmacy licensure exam of the Philippines.