Though buried in textbooks and clinical rotations, medical, nursing and pharmacy school students have forged efforts to bridge their fields together.

The Inter-Professional Healthcare Coalition fosters connectivity among the UCF College of Medicine, UCF College of Nursing and the University of Florida College of Pharmacy — located in Lake Nona — by organizing summits and meetings that offer networking and workshops to encourage better communication and partnership between the disciplines.

"We all have the commonality of taking care of patients," said Rahim Ismail, co-founder of the coalition. "Our collective effort will translate to better patient care than doing it on our own."

At last week's IPHC summit at Nemours Childrens Hospital, more than 150 medical, nursing and pharmacy students all diligently participated in an operating room simulation stitching workshop and discussed the importance of integrated health care.

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When Ismail, a second-year medical school student, decided to pursue medicine, he knew that nothing else would give him the opportunity to make an impact like being a physician.

But coming from a family and social circle of pharmacists, the determination he has in the field is complemented by his admiration for pharmacists and nurses.

"It's just the depth of knowledge they have about a realm that I could not fully appreciate. The level of detail and appreciation they have for the drugs and how they interact together is just inspiring to me," Ismail said. "It's easy to overlook how valuable it is to work in a team — we get very bogged down with our fields."

IPHC, officially founded as a registered student organization last fall, has already sparked involvement from UCF and UF students.

Eventually, its founder wanted to spread the student-run chapter, which facilitates inter-professional teamwork throughout colleges in Florida not just Orlando, said Brett Fleischer, IPHC co-founder and a second-year UF pharmacy student.

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President of the Student Nurses Association at UCF, Lilian Canamo used her passion for the concept of integrating the three disciplines to help coordinate IPHC's summits.

This is the first time that students from pharmacy, nursing and medicine have come together to think critically, Canamo said, referring to the typical very independently taught disciplines at UCF.

Canamo, a senior nursing student, said she hopes the initiative will help create more synergy and dispel stigmas about the fields, such as the notion that nurses are "below" doctors in the health care hierarchy.

"I really hope it continues to spread to pre-med and pre-nursing students to get this idea in their heads that the field they're getting into is very teamwork-oriented," she said.


Nada Hassanein is a Digital Producer for the Central Florida Future. Follow her on Twitter at @nhassanein_ or email her at

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