PHIHEP and the Origins of Inter-Professional Education (IPE)


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.

Penn Logo

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.

Eye Institute

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 …

2 thoughts on “PHIHEP and the Origins of Inter-Professional Education (IPE)

  1. …And we are still trying to reach the ideal of patient-centered interdisciplinary (although now it is called inter professional) health care today. I can certainly tell you from my practice experience in the mid-90s in Rochester NY, working with OTs, PTs, reading specialists, neuropsychologists, speech/language therapists, and audiologists that this model can be highly effective for complicated conditions like learning disabilities, head trauma rehabilitation, and developmental disorders. Sometimes I really miss those heady days. Thank you for the post, Dr. Press.

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