About Alan Dow

Alan Dow is Assistant Vice President of Health Sciences for Interprofessional Education and Collaborative Care. He is responsible for developing, implementing, and researching initiatives in collaborative practice across the Schools of Medicine, Nursing, Pharmacy, Dentistry, and Allied Health. He is supported in this work by funding from the Josiah H. Macy, Jr Foundation as one of the inaugural class of Macy Faculty Scholars, a highly competitive national program focused on developing the next generation of educational leaders. A practicing internal medicine physician, Alan attended medical school at Washington University and completed residency and an health administration degree at VCU.

Onward to the Next Academic Year

With the campus buzzing with both newly-arrived students and returning friends, the interprofessional programs have already kicked into high gear. IPEC 501 started last week with over 510 students from 7 programs and simulation-based experiences began last week as well. Community-based experiences never really took a break at all.

Meanwhile, VCU programs have been receiving a lot of attention nationally. Center Director Alan Dow published a perspective on interprofessional education as a foundation for health care training. A faculty team published the local and national results from student experiences working with complex patients in the community. And, another faculty team published about the impact of simulation-based programs. These are just a few of the recent accomplishments of our faculty in interprofessional program.

But, the unit of success is not faculty accomplishments — it’s impact on our community through direct programs and through the training of future healthcare practitioners focused on the needs of the community. The enthusiasm of campus full of students is palpable and both inspiring and powerful. Imagine what we can accomplish collectively.

Emswiller Interprofessional Symposium: Registration Open!

Registration for the fifth annual Emswiller Interprofessional Symposium is now open here. With keynote addresses by Bonnie Jennings of Emory School of Nursing and Deborah Davis, CEO of MCV Hospitals, the Symposium should describe a vision for the future of interprofessional practice. In addition, presenters from around the region will describe innovations in education and practice. More details about the symposium can be found here.

New Interprofessional Simulations

On October 28th, 19 students from dental hygiene, dentistry, nursing, and pharmacy participated in the initial health assessment simulations. The three-hour session involved two simulations: one, a table top simulation where students from each discipline collaborated to evaluate a teenager, and the second, a standardized patient simulation where each discipline took a history independently and then had to communicate their assessment to their colleagues from other disciplines in order to develop a consensus plan.


“There was a consistent buzz in the air,” noted Center Director, Alan Dow. “The students really seemed to enjoy working with each other, and we were impressed with how well they did.”

Students noted how much they gained from the experience. “I never realized all that pharmacists know,” said one dental hygiene student. “It really changed my perspective.”


Based on the success of this pilot, faculty plan to expand the simulation to all 330 students from these disciplines next academic year.

The Challenge is On!

Hold your ice buckets — a new challenge is on. The students in the physical therapy class of 2019 have challenged the other students in their IPEC 501 course to the 22 push-up challenge, an event to raise awareness about the 22 veterans who commit suicide each day. Read more about the challenge here..

The effects of military service on the members of our armed forces has widespread impact on the lives of our service members and their families. All healthcare professionals have a role in identify mental health problems and helping to refer veterans to the most appropriate resources. We are proud of our students for taking the lead to raise awareness of these issues.

View the students challenge to their classmates here. Let’s support our vets!

Emswiller 2017: Call for Abstracts, Call for Awards of Excellence

The 2017 Emswiller Interprofessional Symposium will occur on February 4th at Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens. The call for abstracts and a new call for awards are now open.

The call for abstracts can be found here. Submissions for oral presentation, workshops, and posters will be accepted through September 30th.

Information and the submission form for the new award for Emerging Leaders in Interprofessional Education can be found here. We seek nominees is two categories:

  1. Students, who are enrolled full-time in a health professions education program
  2. Faculty, who are within 5 years of their initial full-time faculty appointment

Awardees in both categories will comprise a panel at the symposium discussing the future of interprofessional education and practice.

Registration will be open soon — we look forward to reviewing your submissions and seeing you at the Symposium!

A New Year Brings New Opportunities

The campus is abuzz with the start of the new academic year. New students, excited to start their journeys toward careers as health professionals, roam the streets and halls. Meanwhile, anxious faculty put the finishing touches on course syllabi and introductory lectures. The anticipation all of us feel is palpable.

Last week, I had an opportunity to talk to the entering class of pharmacy students about their first semester class, The Foundations of Interprofessional Practice. During the class, these students will work on a team with other early students from nursing, dentistry, dental hygiene, occupational therapy, and physical therapy. We talked about our goal for them of developing an interprofessional professional identity. They were clearly excited which made me excited.

We are counting on them and their peers to tackle the challenges we have in healthcare. These students will become the health professionals who will lead change as we work toward a better system of healthcare. So, we’re all anxious — them, for the first day of class, me, for the future of healthcare. And, we’re optimistic because we are in good company.

Celebrating Excellence

On May 12th, we celebrated the interprofessional accomplishments of students and faculty. Nine graduating students were specifically recognized for their exceptional careers as leaders in interprofessional education and practice. In addition, a number of other students were recognized for outstanding extracurricular involvement in interprofessional activities. We also acknowledge all the hard work of faculty and staff to make these programs successful. Finally, we honored the contributions of Vic Yanchick, the outgoing Senior Executive Director of the Center. As the pages on the calendar turn, we reminisce on the wonderful colleagues at our institution and the good fortune we have to work together towards healthier communities.

Marsha Rappley, CEO of VCU Heatlh and Vice President of Health Sciences, praises the accomplishments of the faculty and staff as outgoing Senior Exectuive Director Vic Yanchick looks on.

Marsha Rappley, CEO of VCU Heatlh and Vice President of Health Sciences, praises the accomplishments of the faculty and staff as outgoing Senior Exectuive Director Vic Yanchick looks on.

Graduating pharmacy student Meredith Crumb (center) with faculty member Emily Peron (fourth from left) and family.

Graduating pharmacy student Meredith Crumb (center) with faculty member Emily Peron (fourth from left) and family.

Faculty from allied health, dentistry, and medicine: Diane Simons, Sharon Lanning, Kelly Lockeman, Jeanne Walter, and Pam Biernacki.

Faculty from allied health, dentistry, and medicine: Diane Simons, Sharon Lanning, Kelly Lockeman, Jeanne Walter, and Pam Biernacki.

Graduating nurse practitioner Molly Battle (second from left) with Marsha Rappley and nursing dean Jean Giddens.

Graduating nurse practitioner Molly Battle (second from left) with Marsha Rappley and nursing dean Jean Giddens.

Graduating dental student Lyubov Slashcheva (middle) with dentistry dean Dave Sarrett and her mother.

Graduating dental student Lyubov Slashcheva (middle) with dentistry dean Dave Sarrett and dental faculty member Sharon Lanning. Read more about Lyubov’s accomplishments here.

Fourth Emswiller Interprofessional Symposium a Success

On February 6th, 124 students, faculty, practitioners, and staff gathered for the Fourth Annual Emswilller Interprofessional Symposium at Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden. Attendees represented 10 states and provided a rich environment for the exchange of ideas.

The Symposium was kicked by Chris Arenson, a physician from Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia and co-director of the Jefferson Center for Interprofessional Education. She described her work to transform primary care at Jefferson and how that experiences shapes her approach to care and education.

Arenson then joined Meg Zomorodi from UNC School of Nursing and Sharon Lanning for VCU School of Dentistry to engage in a panel discussion with the audience about the challenges of implementing interprofessional education and practice and the factors essential for each of these women to lead successful initiatives.

Attendees next broke for lunch and viewing of posters. The vibrant discussion continued across tables and next to posters with LeShaun Clayton, a medical student from Meharry Medical School, winning the People’s Choice Award for best poster and Erika Dumke from VCU’s Division of Health Sciences Diversity winning the Judges’ Award.

Attendees then viewed a series of oral presentations in either the education or practice track before reconvening for a final session that featured six students from five different higher education institutions in Virginia. The students, who were each nominated by faculty for excellence in interprofessional activities, interacted with the audience and talked about their inspiration for and experiences with interprofessional practice.

The students closed by noting the impact of faculty and practitioners on their perspectives on interprofessional practice. To a person, they expressed gratitude for the role modeling and mentorship provide by the interprofessional leaders at their institutions.

More information abotut the Symposium, including slides from presentations and a copy of the program, can be found here

IPEC 501: The Best of the Best student videos

Over the course of the semesterlong IPEC 501: Foundations of Interprofessional Practice course, 498 students from seven programs worked in teams to learn about interprofessional practice. As a capstone assignment, the students had to create a video demonstrating a barrier in healthcare that could be addressed through better interprofessional practice. Here are some of our favorites:

The Hospital

Time as a Barrier to Interprofessional Communication

Setting SMART Goals

Interprofessional Roles and Responsibilities

What Can We Do for You?

Enjoy the show!

Foundations of Interprofessional Practice Course Launches

On August 27th, the first, large-scale for-credit course launched at VCU. Foundations of Interprofessional Practice, or IPEC 501, will enroll about 500 students from all five health science schools. The course, led by Sharon Lanning from the School of Dentistry, also includes faculty from all of the health science schools.


Sharon Lanning leads the orientation of the Foundation of Interprofessional Practice course.


Because of the size of the course, Alan Dow led the orientation of the second half of the students in the Egyptian Building.

Because of the course’s size, the initial class session was held concurrently across two large auditoriums at the University. For most of the rest of the course, the students will work in interprofessional teams of about six students and be guided by a specific faculty member. Through the course, the students will work together and learn from each other about the roles and responsibilities of different professions, principles that guide effective teams, and the interaction between teams and the broader healthcare system.