The following post about planning the IHI Open School West Coast conference was written by Kelsey Priest, MPH, Rebekah Bally, and Cally
What does it mean? Why is it important? What does it look like? As health
professions students of the 21st century, we’re exploring the answers to these
questions in our interprofessional
education curriculum at Oregon Health and Science University and Portland State
University, and through extra-curricular activities with the IHI Open School.
three of us met through our local IHI Open School Chapter while studying public
health. Over the last year, together we have learned about quality
improvement and population health. We have also initiated small-scale projects
to improve health in our local communities through our training in the IHI Change Agent Network.
of our recent projects for the last academic year was the creation, planning,
and implementation of a free large-scale interprofessional learning event for
students across the IHI Open School West Coast Region. This April, we hosted
160 local and regional students in Portland for the very first West Coast Regional Conference.
conference brought together an interprofessional cohort of keynote speakers
from across the country (in public health, nursing, management, and medicine)
and our 13 breakout sessions, hosted by 39 different facilitators, were focused
on a wide variety of pertinent interprofessional issues such as: how to use
social movements to improve health care, the criminal legal system and nutrition,
leadership in health care, the OpenNotes movement, quality improvement and
data, improvement training techniques, and health care simulation.
a conference of this scope and size was a daunting task. However, we believe
our team succeeded because of our intentional group development, organization,
and planning, which started nine months in advance of the event in July of
vision for our conference was to educate and empower learners to be interprofessional
collaborators with each other, their patients, their communities, and their
health systems by:
evidence-based methods of interprofessional team-based care that enhance
- Exploring system
redesign and opportunities for multiple sectors and professions to
interface to design a health services delivery system capable of achieving
the Triple Aim.
- Spreading health
systems improvement best-practices from interprofessional and student-led
organized ourselves as a team using Marshall Ganz’s “snowflake” model of
This model uses a non-hierarchical structure that deploys many interdependent
leaders who work closely together. By distributing the work and the decision
making, and by relying on each others’ strengths and resources, we made a large-scale
project feasible for a diverse group of busy students. In the end, we had
participants from the fields of nursing, medicine, public health, health
management, public administration, and pre-health students from three Chapters,
including PSU & OHSU, the University of Washington, and the University of
Here are a few of the things we learned from planning a
large-scale event (Learn more in our full conference planning guide here):
- Establishing a theme and aim for the conference is
helpful for guiding all conference decisions. Ours was
- Teamwork and sharing responsibility is critical for
- Sustaining teams over a long period of time (nine months,
in our case) takes thoughtful re-engagement along the way.
- Delineation of team responsibilities from the start is
important to make sure each group is working to their full capacity.
- Increased and targeted advertising is paramount to
achieve full participation in all aspects of the conference.
recommend asking attendees for feedback. We received some really positive
feedback, such as this comment from one participant: “The content was so
compelling and interesting…The interactivity enhanced learning, because hearing
something and actually trying it are so different.” But we also really valued
the constructive feedback. For example, one participant pointed out that there
wasn’t much promotion of the event in the dental, nutrition, nursing, and
planning of the conference has been an amazing learning and leadership
experience for us, and we remain committed to interprofessional collaboration
in our future work.
in planning your own conference? We have created a process checklist, planning
outline, and templates to support students in conference and event planning.
Please see our Conference Resource Planning Document here.
Adapted from an original post by Kelsey Priest, MPH, forOHSU’s SOM Student Speak Blog on March 18, 2015.
The West Coast Conference was possible with the generous
support of the IHI Open School, the PSU
& OHSU IHI Open School Chapter, the OHSU Office of the Provost, the PSU
Speakers Board, FamilyCare
Health, Mark O. Hatfield School of Government, Portland State University, OHSU
School of Nursing, OHSU School of Medicine, OHSU All Hill Council, the Oregon
Patient Safety Commission, and over 30 student and faculty volunteers.