Andrea Zakrajsek is a Professor of Occupational Therapy, Affiliate of the Aging Studies Program, and Co-Director of the Center for Interprofessional Education, Research & Practice (CIERP) at Eastern Michigan University. Her research and teaching interests include preparing future health professionals to support participation and access for older adults and people with disabilities. In 2018, she was inducted as a Fellow of the National Academies of Practice for her interprofessional work.
How and why did you get involved?
I would say I first became involved in IPE as a new occupational therapist. I was fortunate to work in a very collaborative interprofessional team of OTs, PTs, Speech-Language Pathologists, Recreational Therapists, Nurses, Social Workers, Physicians, Dietitians, and Psychologists at the Rehabilitation Institute of Michigan in Detroit. It was during that experience of working together for the health and participation of our patients, cross-training and providing instruction to one another, and partnering on various hospital initiatives, I recognized the value of interprofessional collaboration and education. Bringing this knowledge of interprofessional collaboration in an IP team and educating future professional students to do the same to my faculty role at EMU, I've had many opportunities within the Occupational Therapy and Aging Studies Programs to develop and enhance rich educational experiences for students for students with my colleagues from various disciplines.
What do you believe are the benefits?
I believe that IPE offers an opportunity for professional students and faculty to get beyond their professional silos to develop creative solutions that will ultimately support health and participation in our society. By understanding the individual knowledge and strengths that our unique professions bring to healthcare, we can develop something much better, collaboratively.
What has been the most memorable experience or highlight of teaching IPE so far?
I've had so many amazing IPE teaching opportunities that I'm not sure I can pick one! Collaborating with the Nursing Program, we've been able to offer great interprofessional patient simulation educational experiences to our OT and Nursing students that have changed their thinking. Partnerships with the Orthotics and Prosthetics program have led to a deeper understanding of the unique needs and resources for people with amputations for our students. Engaging in interprofessional research has allowed my colleagues and me to construct experiences for students from various professions to develop knowledge and skills to identify research questions that are valuable to multiple disciplines, design and implement studies to answer those questions, and disseminate results back to healthcare systems and other researchers to support patient care. Dialoguing with the interdisciplinary faculty in the Aging Studies Program has allowed us to develop exciting initiatives and creative solutions to support students to develop the skills they need to address issues facing elders from the perspectives of many disciplines. It's thrilling for me to be working in such an environment that EMU affords in collaborating with passionate, intelligent, and highly gifted people from multiple disciplines to support student learning!
- EMU IPE Steering Committee Member
- EMU IPE Scholar (2015)
- Recipient of EMU IPE Mini-Grants
- Fellow, National Academies of Practice
Selected IPE-focused Journal Articles & Book Chapters:
- Hughesdon, K., Zakrajsek, A., Washington,V., Seurynck, K., Myler, L. & Holt, S. Interprofessional simulation with nursing and occupational therapy students: Comparing a virtual and in- person event. Journal of Interprofessional Education and Practice. (Submitted for review).
- Zakrajsek, A., Holt, S., & Tithof, K. (chapter in press). Promoting health, wellness, and quality of life among older adult participation in productive occupations. In M. A. Pizzi & M. Amir (Eds.) Interprofessional perspectives on community practice: Promoting health, well-being and quality of life. Slack Books.
- American Occupational Therapy Association. (2022). Importance of interprofessional education for occupational therapy. American Journal of Occupational Therapy, 76(Suppl. 3), 7613410250. https://doi.org/10.5014/ajot.2022.76S3007 [Authors: Coker-Bolt, P., Doherty, R.F., Doll, J., James, L., Keehn, A., Piernik-Yoder, & Zakrajsek, A.G.]
- Brooks, J., Fenske, D., McBurrows, L., & Zakrajsek, A. (2021). Training future health professionals using an interdisciplinary approach. In J. Friberg, C. Visconti, & S.M. Ginsberg (Eds.) Evidence-based education in the classroom: Examples from clinical disciplines. Slack Books.
- Washington, V.L., Zakrajsek, A., Myler, L., Seurynck, K., Holt, S., & Scazzero, J. (2021). Blending interprofessional education and simulation learning: A mixed-methods study of an interprofessional learning experience with nursing and occupational therapy students. Journal of Interprofessional Care, DOI: 10.1080/13561820.2021.1897552
- Zakrajsek, A.G. & Schuster, E. (2018). Situated learning and interprofessional education: An educational strategy using an apprenticeship model to develop research skills for practice. Health and Interprofessional Practice, 3(3), 1-11. https://commons.pacificu.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1147&context=hip
Selected IPE-focused Presentations
- Zakrajsek, A., Bridge, T., & Hughesdon, K. (2023, March). Enhancing healthcare team well-being through interprofessional education: Findings from phase I. [Poster Presentation]. National Academies of Practice Annual Forum, Washington, D.C.
- Trojanowski, S., Spragg, R., Zakrajsek, A., Holt, S., Smith, L., Keelon, M., & York, A. (2021, Sept/Oct). Complexities of interprofessional care of a person with an amputation: Uniting educational programs virtually. [Conference poster presentation]. Annual Nexus Summit, Virtual Conference.
- Zakrajsek, A., Perneky, S., Bellers, D., & Barragan, C. (20202, October). Cultivating Interprofessional Collaboration Through a Campus-held Older Adult Wellness Fair. [Conference presentation]. Annual Nexus Summit, Virtual Conference.
- Fenske, D., McBurrows, L., Brooks, J., & Zakrajsek, A. (2019, September). Pre-professional interdisciplinary education: It can happen early! [Conference presentation]. Midwest Interprofessional Practice, Education, and Research Conference, Grand Rapids, MI.
- Zakrajsek, A. Washington, V. Holt, S., Myler, L., & Seurynck, K. (2019, March). A perfect pairing: Utilizing standardized patient simulation & interprofessional education learning experiences with occupational therapy and nursing students. [Conference poster presentation]. National Academies of Practice Annual Forum, Pentagon City, VA.
- Myler, L., Seurynck, K., Holt, S., Washington, V. & Zakrajsek, A. (2019, January). Help! I Fell and Hit my Head! An IPE simulation with mental health nursing and occupational therapy students. [Conference presentation]. ISMH Society for Simulation in Healthcare Annual Meeting, San Antonio, TX.
- Seurynck, K., Myler, L., Zakrajsek, A.G., Holt, S.R.L., & Peterson, J. (2016, September). Benefits and challenges of implementing interprofessional simulations across the curriculum. [Conference poster presentation]. Michigan Interprofessional Practice, Education and Research Center 2016 Conference, Grand Rapids, MI.