IPE Seminar Spring 2021 Course Descriptions

The application for the Spring 2021 courses is now closed. Students who applied by November 30 will be notified on December 11, 2020 regarding their application status.

Relationships of Care and the Spaces of Care

This seminar will open up questions of the nature of the therapeutic relationship and the ways in which spaces influence the care provided. What has to happen for care to occur? What is required of the ones being cared for and the ones caring? What does care mean within the interprofessional team? What constitutes a healing environment and how is this reflected in the physical spaces in which care takes place (emergency rooms, birthing rooms, clinic offices, home hospice)? These questions apply to spaces and care intended for individuals, families, communities, and populations. We will consider issues of intimacy, embodiment, relationality, boundaries, interior states of caring or not caring. We will probe how one prepares oneself for the life of caring and how one attempts to cope with the inevitability of suffering and death. We will consider the implications of these issues for everyday personal and professional experiences.

Aging and End-of-Life

This seminar explores the role of health professionals in advancing and improving quality of life in the aging population. The spectrum of topics includes successful aging in healthy seniors to end of life decisions. We face these issues daily in our work, our family life, through interactions with friends and colleagues, and in the course of our lives. The seminar includes careful readings and discussion of fiction, memoir, poetry, and film to better understand the role of the arts, volunteerism, palliative care, psychological distress, loss, and caregiving of the ill. We will share our own writing to examine personal experiences with advanced aging, serious illness, and dying. The policy implications of these questions—including the goals of senior housing, ageism, hospice care, requirements for palliative care services, “guarantees” of health that many think are being made by the health care system—will be faced. These topics are of particular import given the aging of the population worldwide and the health care debate to determine sound and compassionate policy which would allow all people to experience quality of life and dignity and to prevent unnecessary suffering at the end of life.

Health Care Justice and the Care of the Underserved

Health care access and equity is a central issue in today’s sociopolitical climate. For millions of Americans, availability of health care is worsening; for millions more, lack of health care access and equity has been normative, an everyday scourge of institutionalized racism, sexism, and classism. Using a lens of structural violence and intersectionality, this seminar will examine various forms of health care disparity and injustice and their history in the United States. We will focus on historically and currently targeted (or neglected) populations, emphasizing health care access and outcomes for people of color, women, people who identify as trans, impoverished communities, veterans, and people who are incarcerated. The seminar will move from a survey of institutions/systems to the challenge of structural competency in one-on-one interactions between providers, their peers, and patients.

Spirituality and Healthcare

Illness and hospitalization are often the site of engagement with spirituality and religion and of existential exploration of meaning and meaning-making. In this seminar, students will gain an introduction to the provision of spiritual care in health care settings from an interdisciplinary approach. Students will learn a conceptual understanding of religion, spirituality, and culture through an intersectional approach that addresses power differentials and health disparities. This approach will incorporate the provision of spiritual care to people from diverse backgrounds, including that of the atheist and those who identify as “spiritual but not religious.” Students will have the opportunity to shadow a staff chaplain on a spiritual care visit. Students will learn how to conduct a Spiritual Care Screening. Students will learn basic skills for responding to spiritual distress, such as when people ask questions like “Why me?” or “Why is God doing this to me?” For too long, there has been a taboo against asking patients directly about their beliefs, practices, or faith concerns. In this course, guests will join us from interdisciplinary approaches in the Intensive Care Unit and from patient families. In exploring the relational model of care, this seminar will include room for consideration and contemplation of our own belief systems, practices, and relationships to faith–or lack of faith–in the face of illness.

For questions about the seminar itself, please contact Jordana Vanderselt at jv2563@cumc.columbia.edu.

For questions about registration with your program/school, please contact your Commons faculty representative:


College of Dental Medicine

Letty Moss-Salentijn


MD Program

Michael Devlin


School of Nursing

Jeanne Churchill


Institute of Human Nutrition

Moneek Madra


Programs in Occupational Therapy

Phyllis Simon


Programs in Physical Therapy

Laurel Abbruzzese


Clinical Pastoral Education Program

Mychal Springer


Mailman School of Public Health

Christina Ferrari


Program in Genetic Counseling

Amanda Bergner



School of Social Work

Mary Sormanti