IPE Seminar Spring 2024 Course Descriptions

The application is now closed and students have been notified of their course assignments. 

Relationships and Spaces of Care

This seminar will interrogate the nature of the therapeutic relationship and the ways in which context influences the care provided. What defines a helping relationship, and how do relationships between patients and healthcare providers differ from other close relationships? 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, homes )? We will consider issues of professional self and other, intersubjectivity and intimacy, embodiment and boundaries, and interior states of caring or not caring. We will explore helping relationships in the context of birth, trauma, and end of life. We will probe how one prepares oneself for the life of professional caring and how one attempts to cope with the inevitability of loss and death. We will consider the implications of these issues for the everyday personal and professional experiences that we experience now and that lie ahead.

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.

Interprofessional Perspectives on the Impact of Climate Change on Health and Health Care Delivery

Health professionals occupy a critical position in the response to the climate crisis. From large scale disasters, such as flooding and hurricanes, to the slower but deadlier effects of drought, rising heat and air pollution, health professionals from all backgrounds are on the front lines as we work to protect patients and communities. Our expertise and voices are uniquely suited to this moment, however the existential threats facing us can lead to anxiety and emotional exhaustion. In this seminar, we come together to explore the science behind climate change, become versed in how the health of communities is being affected both right now and in the future, and explore opportunities to act. Looking at case studies, we will understand how history, political decisions and sociocultural factors collide to make certain communities bear the brunt of these health impacts and see how the health sector can work together to protect the communities we serve. Using narrative and small group discussion, we will more deeply understand our own unique place in this health crisis, form a community of like-minded peers and combat exhaustion by developing our own agency. Through sessions on communication, we will gain practical skills on how to speak to patients, communities, the media, department heads and our own friends and family. Finally, working with New York Presbyterian Sustainability Initiative, students will have the opportunity to apply their knowledge and skills by implementing a project at the hospital or giving a lecture at their weekly seminar series.

Healthcare Justice and Care for the Underserved

For millions of Americans, availability of healthcare is worsening; for millions more, lack of equitable and effective health care has been normative. From structural violence to implicit bias, this course examines the ways in which health disparities, healthcare delivery, and differential access to care between marginalized and dominant groups reflect pervasive racial, gender, economic, and environmental discrimination. Using an intersectional, anti-racist, and structural lens, we will focus on historically marginalized and oppressed populations, framing health care as a site of injustice. Students will expand their understanding of social determinants of health; identify and examine structural causes of health disparities; and assess the structural competency of healthcare provision on the micro, mezzo, and macro levels. 

For questions about the seminar itself, please contact Yinde Newby at ytn2102@cumc.columbia.edu.

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


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Letty Moss-Salentijn


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Michael Devlin


School of Nursing

Jeanne Churchill


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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