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20Q: Improving Treatment Outcomes in Schools with Interprofessional Collaborative Practice

20Q: Improving Treatment Outcomes in Schools with Interprofessional Collaborative Practice
Kimberly Allyn Farinella, PhD, CCC-SLP
February 26, 2024

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From the Desk of Ann Kummer


Interprofessional collaborative practice (IPCP) is a model of treatment where professionals from different disciplines work together to set goals and determine treatment strategies for individuals in their care. The reason for this collaboration is to ensure that the treatment provided results in the best possible outcomes. This model of holistic treatment has been embraced in healthcare for many years. In the Division of Speech-Language Pathology at Cincinnati Children’s (where I spent most of my career), our SLPs served on many interdisciplinary teams (i.e., cleft palate-craniofacial team, feeding team, rehabilitation team, aural rehab team, etc.) where they engaged in interprofessional collaboration for the benefit of their patients.

Although interdisciplinary teams are needed for management of complex medical conditions, they are also needed for complex language and learning issues that are common in the schools. Therefore, I am excited that Dr. Kimberly Farinella has submitted this article about how to improve treatment outcomes for children in schools by engaging in interprofessional collaborative practice.

Here is some information about Dr. Farinella. Kimberly A. Farinella, PhD, CCC-SLP is a speech-language pathology evaluator and SLPA supervisor for Dynamic Interventions of Northern Arizona. She completed her doctoral training at the University of Arizona and her postdoctoral fellowship in the Division of Speech Pathology in the Department of Neurology at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. Dr. Farinella’s research interests include treatment efficacy for childhood apraxia of speech, interprofessional practice, and the systematic study of the principles of motor learning.

In this course, Dr. Farinella describes the benefits and barriers to interprofessional collaborative practice (IPCP) in school settings. She provides specific examples and suggestions for SLPs and education professionals who want to successfully implement IPCP to optimize outcomes for their students. I think this article provides a roadmap for developing effective collaborative teams in school settings.

Now…read on, learn, and enjoy!

Ann W. Kummer, PhD, CCC-SLP, FASHA, 2017 ASHA Honors
Contributing Editor 

Browse the complete collection of 20Q with Ann Kummer CEU articles at www.speechpathology.com/20Q

20Q: Improving Treatment Outcomes in Schools
With Interprofessional Collaborative Practice

Learning Outcomes

After this course, readers will be able to: 

  • Define and describe interprofessional collaborative practice (IPCP), and how it differs from multidisciplinary, interdisciplinary, and transdisciplinary models.
  • Define interprofessional education (IPE) and describe its relationship to IPCP.
  • Describe the key elements of IPCP in assessment and treatment
  • List at least three benefits of IPCP and evidence supporting the use of IPCP in schools.
Kimberly Farinella
Kimberly Farinella 

1. How would you define “interprofessional collaborative practice”?

Interprofessional collaborative practice (IPCP) is defined as a relationship or ‘partnership’ between two or more invested parties who share decision-making to achieve mutually desired outcomes. IPCP was first introduced in medicine in 1972 as a team-based perspective where multiple practitioners from various disciplines work together toward shared, patient-focused goals to improve health and social outcomes, reduce medical errors, manage rising healthcare costs, and address the global shortage of highly trained medical practitioners (Johnson & Johnson, 2023). Interprofessional education (IPE) was introduced even earlier in 1969, defined as two or more professions learning about, from, and with each other (Fransworth et al., 2015; WHO, 2010). IPE aims to prepare future healthcare professionals from different disciplines to work successfully as an interprofessional team based on the premise that professionals who learn together are better prepared to practice together. IPE is therefore a necessary prerequisite to IPCP (Green & Johnson, 2015; WHO, 2010).

2. Aren’t most school-based SLPs already using interprofessional collaborative practice?

The extension of IPCP into schools is newer relative to its origins in healthcare. This is reflected in ASHA’s updated version of the World Health Organization’s definition, where IPCP is defined as multiple providers from different professional backgrounds providing comprehensive health or educational services by working with individuals, their families, caregivers, and communities to deliver the highest quality care across settings (ASHA, 2016; WHO, 2010). As in healthcare, IPCP in schools can improve outcomes, reduce errors (over-/under-identification of special education populations), optimize resources, and address teacher and special education provider shortages.

While SLPs and education professionals collaborate frequently, they are generally not engaged in interprofessional collaborative practice.  Consider the following student scenario familiar to many SLPs in schools: a 2nd grader on the caseload with a specific learning disability in reading comprehension and written expression, and speech/language deficits in receptive and expressive language. The special education teacher provides specialized instruction 2x/week for 45 minute-sessions to address reading (decoding) and responding correctly to “wh” questions in writing using correct sentence structure. The SLP provides specialized instruction in a small group 2x/week for 30 minute-sessions to address listening comprehension and responding correctly to “wh” questions using correct grammar and syntax. Literacy materials for all special education and speech/language treatment sessions are provided by the classroom teacher. The SLP checks in regularly with the special education teacher to discuss and monitor progress on the student’s similar goals. The SLP also meets with the classroom teacher frequently to discuss strategies to improve the student’s participation in cooperative group activities (e.g., jigsaw assignments) and completion of independent work, as he struggles with attention, following directions, and is easily distracted in the classroom, often disrupting peers at his table. Parents note similar difficulties with homework. The student is making progress with special education services as reported on quarterly progress updates sent home to parents, and his benchmark test scores in literacy show small gains based on classroom teacher data.

Although this scenario includes elements consistent with other models of collaboration, this is not interprofessional collaborative practice (IPCP).

3. How would you describe the model of collaboration used in the above student scenario?

There are elements of collaboration described here, and they mostly fit the interdisciplinary model, where professionals work largely independently with students, with some effort to collaborate on treatment activities and communicate regularly about student progress on discipline-specific goals. However, since the student is receiving pull-out services for special education and speech/language interventions, that is, he is removed from the general education classroom to work in a separate room with each provider, the service delivery itself is not collaborative. Collaboration is not achievable during pull-out services, as described in the above scenario, since each professional is working separately with the student in their separate space on separate goals (Friend & Cook, 2013; Green & Johnson, 2015; Pfeiffer et al., 2019).

4. If the student is making progress and showing improvements on grade-level summative assessments, why not continue using this model of service delivery?

Although progress may be observed in the special education and speech/language settings, skill improvements often generalize to the classroom more slowly and in some cases, not at all. This type of service delivery is often inefficient because of duplication of services; note the significant overlap in special education and speech/language goals in the above scenario. Additionally, the student is separated from typical classroom peers more often than is necessary, possibly violating least restrictive environment (LRE) per the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) which requires students with disabilities to be educated with nondisabled peers to the maximum extent possible (IDEA, 2004).

5. Can you describe IPCP relative to other models of collaboration that professionals may also be using in schools?

Most professionals are familiar with the multidisciplinary, interdisciplinary, and transdisciplinary models, and special education teams frequently engage in behaviors that fall into one or more of these models. The least collaborative model is the multidisciplinary model, where team members assess and treat independently using their discipline-specific skills and knowledge to address students’ needs. There are no efforts on the part of the multidisciplinary team to coordinate or integrate their evaluation and treatment efforts. Parents/caregivers are generally not involved with goal writing, and communication between team members to inform about one another’s interventions typically occurs once per year during the Individualized Education Plan (IEP) meeting (Friend & Cook, 2013).

In the interdisciplinary model, there is more effort to plan evaluation and treatment activities as team members are willing and able to share roles and responsibilities. Goals are developed as a team, with the parent or caregiver sometimes having a role in this process, with information about services and progress communicated more frequently than just at the annual IEP meeting. However, team members still assess and treat independently to address the student’s discipline-specific needs/goals (Friend & Cook, 2013; Pfeiffer et al., 2019), and as discussed, pull-out, discipline-specific interventions are common.

In the transdisciplinary model, professionals from different disciplines work together during all phases of assessment and treatment. Team members, including family members, recognize the importance of integrating their knowledge and skills and share roles and responsibilities with consideration for all aspects of the outcome they want to achieve. Co-treatment is common, whereas pull-out services that occur individually by discipline in separate rooms are not, and meetings to plan and debrief occur regularly. This is the most collaborative model of the three. The purpose of the transdisciplinary model is to help students develop the speech/language skills needed to access the general education curriculum and successfully participate in classroom instruction and activities (Pershey & Rapking, 2003).

IPCP most closely resembles the transdisciplinary model, where team members participate in all aspects of assessment and treatment together, working across disciplinary boundaries to determine and address students’ needs. However, IPCP takes things a step further. Team members not only share knowledge, skills, and responsibilities, expanding their roles to achieve students’ goals but consider the bigger picture with respect to improved student outcomes, including sharing knowledge and information with those who can make or change policies that benefit all students (Friend & Cook, 2013; Green & Johnson, 2015).

6. Can you further discuss what interprofessional education (IPE) is and how it relates to interprofessional collaborative practice (IPCP)?

Interprofessional education (IPE) is a teaching approach traditionally used in university settings to prepare and develop healthcare students and students in education to successfully implement IPCP in the work setting. The goal of IPE is to develop a future workforce that is ready for IPCP (Green & Johnson, 2015).

IPE may include coursework and clinical experiences that enable students and faculty to learn about, from, and with one another (Bridges et al., 2011), emphasizing the core competencies developed by the Interprofessional Education Collaborative (IPEC). These core competencies include values/ethics, roles and responsibilities, communication, and teamwork, which are necessary to achieve IPCP in the workplace.

By learning about and from different pre-service professionals (students) and their clinical educators, students gain an understanding of the unique knowledge and skills of others’ professions, as well as their own. Engaging with one another provides opportunities for students to blend their professional knowledge and skills to achieve common goals. Students learn where their scope of practice may overlap with other professions and how best to deliver high-quality comprehensive treatment without duplicating services (Green & Johnson, 2015; Kerins, 2018). There is an emphasis on group decision-making, planning, and problem-solving through mutual authority and clear, respectful, jargon-free communication to support a team approach. Students and faculty in the health and education professions learn to work as a coordinated, collaborative team, valuing one another, and sharing responsibility and accountability for successes and challenges. IPE allows students to see first-hand the benefits of collaboration and how much more they can achieve together versus individually when serving clinical populations (Green & Johnson, 2015).

7. What if IPE was not a component of an SLP’s clinical training program?

This is an excellent question.  ASHA’s requirement for the inclusion of IPE in all accredited speech-language pathology graduate programs is relatively new (CFCC, 2018). As such, many working SLPs did not receive IPE coursework or clinical training while in graduate school. Also, there is no specific guidance provided for how university programs should include IPE or IPCP in their graduate curricula. Therefore, even current SLP graduate students (and other pre-service professionals) participate in differing levels of IPE training, and that training may or may not involve interprofessional clinical experiences where students and faculty from multiple disciplines work together in the same space (Edwards & Newell, 2022).

As such, on-the-job IPE training plays an important role in establishing successful IPCP teams in schools. Creating or seeking opportunities to learn about, from, and with other professions is key to building an interprofessional team (Pfeiffer et al., 2019). Most recently, I worked in a large county school system where SLPs from area schools met monthly on a Friday afternoon to discuss issues at their schools, generate topics for future professional development, and work together to build therapy activities for different clinical populations. Additionally, there were at least four professional development presentations that SLPs were required to attend. To support an IPE/IPCP approach using these examples, SLPs, special education providers, OTs, PTs, and educational psychologists from area schools could meet monthly on a Friday afternoon to learn about, with, and from one another and create assessment and treatment plans, activities, and materials together to facilitate implementation of IPCP with their students.  Further, professional development presentations required for SLPs (e.g., assessing bilingual populations) are often relevant to multiple disciplines and could be required for all, creating yet another IPE opportunity.

8. What might IPCP look like for the 2nd grader described earlier receiving special education and speech/language services to address his language and literacy deficits?

Central to IPCP is collaborative goal writing, or development of a shared goal, which incorporates best practices of goal writing (i.e., SMART goals) while considering how multiple service providers will facilitate success with this goal (AOTA, APTA, & ASHA, 2022). Collaborative goal writing begins with the IEP team working together to identify the educational impact of specific skill deficits, namely, how the student’s difficulties affect his educational performance (AOTA, APTA, & ASHA, 2022; Prasad & Arner, 2023).

In the scenario described earlier, the student is struggling to participate during cooperative learning activities with peers and complete work independently at school and at home, representing the educational impact of his disabilities. The IEP team members would meet to discuss the student’s present levels of performance in all areas (i.e., difficulties with attention, decoding, reading comprehension, following directions, auditory comprehension, and oral and written grammar and syntax). The team then develops a collaborative, student-centered goal (e.g., goals that improve engagement at school). Like collaborative goals provided in recent literature (e.g., Prasad & Arner, 2023), an example, in this case, might be: “The student will increase participation in classroom activities with peers by independently completing at least 50% of an assignment in the same amount of time used by peers in 3 out of 4 group learning activities per week, for four consecutive weeks, as measured by classroom teacher and service provider report, classroom observations, and work samples.”

Team members determine how they will work together to address this shared goal. For instance, the special education provider may engage in co-teaching with the general education teacher to address literacy development and assist in modifying assignments and instructional materials; the SLP may also work with the general education teacher providing classroom-based language instruction and intervention, along with teaching compensatory strategies to improve attention and comprehension of multiple-step oral and written directions. The general education teacher may provide differentiated instructional materials (e.g., choice of assignments, use of manipulatives, reading materials at varying reading levels) (Tomlinson, 2000) and accommodations to improve attention and productivity (e.g., allowing the student to stand and move during group and independent work assignments).  Frequent communication with parents/caregivers enables them to incorporate teaching and compensatory strategies and accommodations to facilitate homework completion.

If short-term objectives are required, these can easily be added by specifically addressing the skills needed to achieve the shared goal (e.g., following multiple-step directions for participation and completion of the assignment). Note there is one shared goal for which all relevant professionals are responsible, the student’s needs are addressed collaboratively by professionals in the classroom, and the student is educated with nondisabled peers to the maximum extent possible (IDEA, 2004).

Finally, the team determines how they will collect data and monitor progress and may develop a shared rubric, checklist, or data sheet (AOTA, APTA, & ASHA, 2022; Prasad & Arner, 2023).

9. Isn’t each service provider required to write a separate IEP goal?

No. IEP goals are individualized for the student, not the discipline (AOTA, APTA, & ASHA, 2022). If a shared goal is determined to be more effective and efficient for the student, then it should be considered by the team. In some cases, service providers will have discipline-specific goals and a shared goal, with both ‘pull-out’ and IPCP service minutes, as that is what may best support the student at that time. Interprofessional collaboration is considered when the team determines it can lead to better student results, not for the sake of collaborating (e.g., Green & Johnson, 2015).

10. How does Medicaid billing work for team-based service delivery?

Because states regulate Medicaid reimbursement, it is necessary for the team to determine how IPCP should be documented and billed, although Medicaid reimbursement should not dictate how goals are developed or services are provided (Massachusetts Tri-Alliance of School Therapists, 2019). It is recommended to first review information in your state’s Medicaid school billing manual online, often available on your state’s Department of Education website. If you can’t find the information you need, you can call your state’s Medicaid provider hotline, consult your school administration’s billing specialists, or contact ASHA at reimbursement@asha.org (Bergner & Ryan, 2023).

11. Are there certain student populations who benefit more than others from IPCP?

Students with and without disabilities can benefit from IPCP; however, students with complex, heterogeneous disorders like autism spectrum disorder (ASD), dyslexia, and childhood apraxia of speech (CAS) are in greatest need of interprofessional collaborative assessment and treatment. Not only is there a high rate of co-occurring developmental language disorder (DLD) in these clinical populations and, in some cases, subclinical language deficits, but also a high rate of comorbid developmental coordination disorder (DCD), a neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by substantial delays in acquisition and execution of fine and gross motor planning and coordination that result in functional limitations (American Psychiatric Association, 2013). DCD not only affects fine and gross motor coordination for learned, highly sequenced motor skills (e.g., writing; throwing/catching a ball) but can have negative social/emotional consequences with teachers reporting school-age children with DCD having fewer friends, being more socially isolated, and reporting lower self-esteem (e.g., Poulsen et al., 2008). IPCP is key to early identification and ongoing monitoring and management of all possible language, speech, motor, and social/emotional difficulties that students with complex disabilities may present with at different time points in their school careers that negatively impact educational outcomes and emotional well-being (e.g., Adlof & Hogan, 2018; DeLuca et al., 2023; Iuzzini-Seigel et al., 2022; Nemmi et al., 2023).

12. What might an IPCP evaluation look like for a student who has academic, speech/language, and motor concerns?

That is the second most common question I am asked. There are some key elements necessary for an evaluation to truly reflect IPCP. First, IPCP team members are determined based on the student’s needs/difficulties (e.g., educational psychologist, special education provider, SLP, OT and/or PT). Efforts are coordinated and intentional such that all relevant background information is gathered from teachers and family members without duplicating questions on case history forms (e.g., using shared questionnaires developed in advance by the team). Additionally, team members may participate in classroom observations together, in pairs, or individually and debrief afterward. All behaviors observed across disciplines are shared and discussed during a team meeting (e.g., the SLP may notice the student struggling to grasp his pencil correctly during a classroom writing activity). The IPCP team discusses in advance assessment tools they may administer and the skills and behaviors addressed by those tools, which ensures professionals are learning about, from, and with one another. There are commercially available team-based assessments for some clinical populations, but teams can create a shared evaluation tool if appropriate. With IPCP evaluations, students are evaluated by the team together in the same space, so developing collaborative assessment tools/checklists can be beneficial. The assessment plan may include a schedule specifying who will do what and when during the evaluation, with professionals sharing responsibility for completing all assessment tasks (e.g., PT engages the student in multisyllabic word repetition in between trials of throwing and catching a ball while the SLP collects data on speech and motor behaviors). Team members discuss the students’ strengths and challenges on all examination tasks within their area of expertise (e.g., communication) and across disciplines at a debrief meeting following the evaluation. All assessment results are discussed relative to concerns noted by teachers and parents to determine the educational and social impact of the student’s difficulties in the school setting (Giess & Serianni, 2018).

In some cases, professionals may still require discipline-specific data, so they may work with the student individually on another occasion. While IPCP is meant to save time by increasing efficiency through professionals’ collaborative efforts, some states and schools have eligibility criteria that still require standardized assessment, thereby necessitating additional 1:1 testing. However, some teams work well together and can coordinate and complete standardized assessments collaboratively.

13. What if my colleagues are not interested in collaborating?

That is the most common question I am asked. Professionals must be willing to collaborate for IPCP to be successful, and the key to that willingness lies in having trusted relationships with colleagues. The core competencies established by the Interprofessional Education Collaborative (IPEC) mentioned earlier (i.e., values/ethics, roles and responsibilities, communication, and teamwork) provide a framework that can help professionals build strong relationships necessary to work together (Armstrong et al., 2023; Ludwig & Kerins, 2019). Establishing relationships takes time, effort, openness, respectful communication, conflict management skills, and regard for one another (e.g., Armstrong et al., 2023; Pershey & Rapking, 2003). Sometimes it is easier to connect with colleagues at work-related events outside of work hours (e.g., holiday parties; fundraising runs). It is not enough for professionals to tolerate one another; relationships between team members must be genuine to successfully accomplish tasks as a team and establish a collaborative approach for the shared purpose of improving student outcomes (Dobie, 2007; Green & Johnson, 2015).

14. What if professionals cannot engage in IPCP because of time constraints?

Not having enough time is the single biggest contributor to education professionals and SLPs not collaborating (e.g., Armstrong et al., 2023; Pfeiffer et al., 2019). However, collaboration is critical to meeting the needs of students who receive special education services. Most classroom teachers have little to no training in supporting students with disabilities (Darling-Hammond et al., 2009). Treatment outcomes for students with language impairments are better when classroom-based interventions involving team teaching (i.e., SLP collaborates with the classroom teacher to provide direct services) in inclusive classrooms are used (e.g., McGinty & Justice, 2006). While satisfactory outcomes may be achieved when service providers practice alone, research shows that collaboration may be the most effective way to improve learning and achievement for all students, not just those with disabilities (Learning Forward, 2011; Pfeiffer et al., 2019). Allocating time and protecting that time for IPCP must be a priority in schools to ensure the best treatment and achievement outcomes for students.

15. What about large caseloads?

Large caseloads in schools are indeed a barrier and contribute to the lack of time needed for successful IPCP. However, large caseloads often result from redundancy of services, similar to the student scenario described earlier, along with slow progress and limited generalization of skills to the classroom because of continued reliance on traditional service delivery models. Furthermore, many students receiving speech/language services have IEP goals that directly address specific skill deficits that were noted on standardized testing protocols (e.g., figurative language difficulties based on poor performance on the OWLS-II). Yet often, these specific skill deficits do not impact the student educationally or socially. Additionally, continued reliance on standardized test scores for eligibility, particularly for bilingual student populations, can contribute to over-identification of speech/language impairments. Finally, as mentioned, classroom teachers are not formally trained to support students with disabilities. As such, they are often unsure how to modify the curriculum or provide accommodations that can help students who are struggling in the classroom. This can lead to special education referrals that are unnecessary. IPCP addresses all these issues and, ultimately, can serve to reduce SLP caseloads.

16. How can the barriers to collaboration be addressed?

Research stresses the importance of engaging in high-quality learning experiences related to IPCP, as well as resources (i.e., time and money) to access these opportunities (DeLuca et al., 2023). The 3:1 model is suggested as one way to address time and caseload limitations on collaboration (Schraeder, 2019). Using this model, SLPs provide direct student services for three weeks, with the following week used for indirect activities (e.g., IPE/IPCP; team meetings; classroom observations). As mentioned, IPCP, once implemented, helps address issues that contribute to large caseloads (e.g., duplication of special education services) and the time challenges they create.

The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) which was introduced to federal K-12 education law in 2015, provides funding to states to use for meetings between teachers and other professionals, including SLPs, to promote interprofessional collaboration (Ludwig & Kerins, 2019). As such, money is available for efforts to implement IPCP in schools. As suggested previously, SLPs and education professionals meeting together at district-required presentations and meetings instead of discipline-specific activities can further facilitate IPE opportunities.

17. How do school administrators factor in?

Implementing IPCP requires support from school administrators. Teams need time and space to evaluate and treat students together if working in the student’s classroom is not feasible. Further, a commitment to interprofessional collaboration by administrators is necessary to ensure access to resources (e.g., funding) and professional learning opportunities (IPE) to gain the skills and competencies to engage in IPCP successfully.

18. What if the administration opposes IPCP despite strong evidence for this model?

Unfortunately, this is often the case. Research, however, has shown important emotional and psychological benefits for professionals working on collaborative teams, including increased job satisfaction, reduced feelings of social isolation, and prevention of burnout (Johnson, 2003). Given the shortage of teachers and special education providers, especially SLPs, promoting practices that improve well-being in the workplace is wise. As discussed, collaboration among education professionals contributes to increases in student achievement for all, not just those with identified disabilities. School administrators have a significant interest in educational outcomes and, therefore, will benefit by considering implementing IPCP at their schools.

19. In what school setting did you most successfully implement IPCP?

I felt most successful when working in an inclusive preschool and a high school self-contained (life skills) classroom, and there were several reasons for this. For one, we all worked full-time together in the same district and had become friends, spending time together outside of work which contributed to the strong bond we felt with one another. Second, the students we served remained in their classrooms most of the day, making scheduling easier for all professionals involved. Third, classrooms were large and had attached glass rooms for team planning and debrief meetings, and providing a separate space to work together with a student when the classroom was not an option. Fourth, special education administrators were fully supportive and provided the financial resources we needed to achieve success, including professional development opportunities. Finally, the team recognized the need for change given students’ lack of progress using traditional models and valued the idea of trying collaborative interventions, learning from mistakes, and trying again.

20. If I want to use the IPCP framework at my school, what is the best way to get started?

I suggest seeking out IPE opportunities, such as observing other professionals working with students you already have or may soon have on your caseload. If you don’t have time to observe, make these opportunities productive. I recently requested to observe an educational psychologist evaluating multiple siblings because I was tasked with evaluating them with limited time to do so. I not only learned that many of our assessment tasks overlap but that I could glean most of the data I needed in all areas to write a comprehensive speech/language report for each student with minimal need for additional assessment on my part. The educational psychologist was helpful in engaging the students in dynamic assessment at my request and ensured I had access to the students’ written responses on literacy evaluation tasks. She had practiced in her field for 25+ years and worked collaboratively in classrooms with SLPs before, so engaging in impromptu IPCP was not difficult. This is consistent with the literature that the most experienced professionals are the most willing to collaborate (e.g., Pfeiffer et al., 2019).

Start small, perhaps with one student and one other professional, preferably a colleague you have an established relationship with already and someone willing and able to collaborate with you. Discuss your plans to pilot IPCP with your school’s administration and gauge the degree to which they are on board with your plans. Request to be included in required curriculum development meetings with classroom teachers for additional IPE opportunities for IPE. It is helpful to be well-versed in the general education curriculum to determine the educational impact of students’ disabilities.

If you are not shy about public speaking, request to provide brief presentations to teachers and staff at weekly or monthly meetings, providing examples of how IPCP could be implemented with specific student populations. Engage paraprofessionals and parent volunteers, as they are often willing and able to assist classroom teachers with new initiatives. Determine who in your building is a natural leader and recruit them to assist you with these efforts.

Try the 3:1 model to allocate the necessary time for IPCP (Schraeder, 2019), and review literature that provides clear illustrations on how to move from a traditional service delivery model to IPCP (e.g., Giess & Serianni, 2018).  Finally, reach out to universities in your state to obtain materials or other suggestions for developing IPE opportunities. Universities may be developing grant applications to assist with IPCP pilot opportunities in school settings and may be interested in recruiting your school.


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Farinella, K. (2024). 20Q: Improving treatment outcomes in schools with interprofessional collaborative practice. SpeechPathology.com. Article 20646. Available at www.speechpathology.com

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kimberly allyn farinella

Kimberly Allyn Farinella, PhD, CCC-SLP

Kimberly A. Farinella, PhD, CCC-SLP is currently adjunct faculty in the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders at Northern Arizona University. Dr. Farinella has presented nationally on the differential diagnosis and treatment of children with severe speech sound disorders. She completed her doctoral training at the University of Arizona and her postdoctoral fellowship in the Division of Speech Pathology in the Department of Neurology at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. Dr. Farinella’s research interests include treatment efficacy for childhood apraxia of speech, interprofessional practice, and the systematic study of the principles of motor learning.

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