As we continue to build an interprofessional culture, we look to role models and advocates to lead the way. It’s our job to find those who are doing it, and link with those who want to do it, expanding the network of IPCP which in turn expands the network for IPE opportunities.
We are fortunate to have those role models in Western New York. The Seneca Nation Health System, providing healthcare to the Seneca Nation of Indians, the largest Native American Nation in New York State, is a role model for interprofessional practice – they understand and act upon the need to provide holistic care through a team approach.
To learn from the Seneca Nation, UB’s School of Public Health and Health Professions and the Empire State Public Health Training Center hosted a workshop at Roswell Park Cancer Institute on June 6, 2013 focused on healthcare and American Indians.
The workshop kicked off with a moving introduction to principles of the Seneca Nation as told through stories by prominent Seneca leader Flip White, and a talk about historical trauma and its impact on health by Dr. Randy John, Curator of the Seneca Iroquois National Museum. With this as background, participants gained a deeper understanding of the very rich culture from the Seneca perspective from Exercise Specialist at the Seneca Nation Health System, Seneca Nation member and UB alumna Andrea John-Ortego. As part of her presentation, Andrea shared an inspiring gift of corn and cloth, both valued by Senecas, with each participant to represent new knowledge gained and relationships built.
Central to healthcare for the Senecas is the medicine wheel integrating physical, mental, emotional and spiritual health, all areas that could be addressed through interprofessional collaborative practice. Capping an exciting day of storytelling and information-sharing, Dr. Michael Kalsman, Medical Director of the Seneca Nation Health System, talked about healthcare for members of the Seneca Nation through interprofessional provider teams. As one provider noted, “Native Americans are typically at higher risk for health issues which leads to many other community-wide problems and negative health outcomes. Healing from trauma and reconnecting with traditional culture can buffer against health problems and social issues.” The Seneca Nation Health System works under this premise, and a team approach is the model they’ve adopted. It’s a concept that most, if not all, would agree makes sense.
The workshop led to providers asking to learn more about interprofessional care for their agencies – the outcome we hoped for.