IPE seems to be a hot topic these days that caught my eye, reminiscent of one of my student experiences at the Pennsylvania College of Optometry in the mid 1970s. The acronym for the program that I participated in as an intern was PHIHEP: The Philadelphia Interdisciplinary Health and Education Program. I offer this brief synopsis as an historical footnote to the field. The definitive summary of the program is available through this link to a dissertation at U. Penn Scholarly Commons by Linda Marie Hamashima, submitted in fulfillment of her Ph.D. in the Graduate School of Education.
PHIHEP was sponsored by the Pennsylvania College of Podiatric Medicine from 1974-1978, presenting a weekly series of interdisciplinary seminars and workshops in which students from health education programs learned the basics of interdisciplinary health care. The participating institutions were Hahnemann College of Allied Health Professions, Pennsylvania College of Optometry, Pennsylvania College of Podiatric Medicine, Philadelphia College of Pharmacy and Science, and the University of Pennsylvania, Division of Psychology in Education. PHIHEP also offered a three-week team rotation through which students gained knowledge of the functioning of interdisciplinary teams.
Look at this section from Dr. Hamashima’s dissertation, and it reads as if it were written today:
The National Institute, sponsored yearly by PHIHEP, was established to provide a national forum for discussing and sharing knowledge concerning interdisciplinary health care and education.
The 1978 National Institute focused on the feasibility of the interdisciplinary model as a realistic alternative for health-care delivery in the United States. The three-day program presented models of several currently operating programs, methods of improving public relations, and problems in developing interdisciplinary health-care teams. The Institute also addressed the marketing research necessary for consumer acceptance and patronage of inter-disciplinary health care. Four major problems were discussed in the workshops: cost effectiveness of teams, peer acceptance, legal liability of team health care, and financial support of team health-care delivery.
Those were the halcyon days of interdisciplinary care at the Pennsylvania College of Optometry, in particular at the Feinbloom Center of the College’s Eye Institute. The Center was comprised of low vision specialists in Optometry, Orientation and Mobility, and Education. The lower level of The Eye Institute housed the Feinbloom Center, the Electrodiagnostic Service, and the Pediatric Unit. Six months after completing a Residency in Pediatric Optometry in 1978, I was appointed Chief of the Pediatric Unit and promptly modeled the Unit after the template created by my predecessors and infused with the interdisciplinary flavor of the Feinbloom Center and the PHIHEP program. Our staff included consultants in education, pediatric allergy, pediatric audiology, and pediatric ophthalmology.
And with a nod to Paul Harvey, now you know the rest of the story …