IPE Seminar Spring 2022 Course Descriptions

The application for the spring 2022 IPE Seminar courses is now closed. If you applied, you will be alerted of your status on December 10, 2021.

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.

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.

Vaccine Safety, Hesitancy and Confidence

With the growing problem of vaccine hesitancy, including among health care professionals, there is a need for students to know more on the subjects of vaccine safety, hesitancy and confidence. In addition to lectures, this course will be interactive and involve teams of students working together. Our goal is to provide students with an understanding of: 1) How we know that vaccines are safe and efficacious/effective; 2) What we mean by the vaccine hesitant/deliberating and vaccine confident designations and the distinct makeup of the vaccine hesitant/deliberating group; 3) The reasons why people are vaccine hesistant/deliberating including racism within healthcare system and its impact, cultural perspectives and experiences; 4) What are the drivers of vaccine hesitancy/deliberation; 5) What is meant by cognitive dissonance and confirmation bias in the context of vaccine hesitancy/deliberation; 6) What is the importance of “influencers” including health care professionals; 7) Vaccination and ethics – do health care professionals have an ethical obligation to be immunized in order to protect their patients; 8) Vaccination and the law – the legal basis for vaccine mandates; and 9) Addressing vaccine hesitancy/deliberation - what works and what does not.

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

Troy Hoffman


Program in Genetic Counseling

Amanda Bergner



School of Social Work

Mary Sormanti