Dean Emeritus Gilmore Talks Interprofessional Education

headshot of Grover C. Gilmore

A Case Western Reserve University faculty member since 1975, Grover C. Gilmore was the Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel Dean in Applied Social Sciences at the Mandel School for 20 years, retiring in 2021.

In his words…

What’s an example of a professional behavior that’s necessary to have to succeed in an IPE environment?

Interprofessional education is a very important initiative for Case Western Reserve University. As the dean of the Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel School, I am committed to providing this opportunity to all of our social work students. If done correctly, interprofessional education enables students to learn from, with and about each other. As such, each profession may begin to adopt and understand each other’s professional language, culture and scope of practice.

Given this naturally occurring dynamic, it is necessary for social workers, as well as other professions, to know the breadth and scope of their own professional boundaries. Adhering to the old adage of “stay in your lane” is a professional behavior necessary to succeed in an interprofessional environment.

Any myths about social work you’d like to bust?

The field of social work is strongly rooted in the value of promoting social justice. The preamble of the National Association of Social Workers states in part: “Social workers are sensitive to cultural and ethnic diversity and strive to end discrimination, oppression, poverty, and other forms of social injustice.” Given that, there is a long-held presumption that all social workers adhere to a particular political ideology that is more aligned with this sentiment. The reality is that not all social workers are predisposed to a strict liberal ideology. We’re all not “tree huggers.” While we all share a common vision toward promoting social justice, we differ greatly in the approach, strategies and policy initiatives to achieve that aim. The profession of social work is quite diverse in many respects. It parallels the diversity that exists within interprofessional teams, yet we all come together for a common purpose.

What excites you most about IPE?

According to the World Health Organization, closing the gaps associated with the social determinants of health is a primary initiative in the U.S. and around the world. I believe interprofessional education, and practice, will be an exciting tool to better understand and combat the socioeconomic causes of poor health outcomes. Specifically related to social work, we provide our healthcare partners a broader perspective of the environmental causes that undermine good health and offer expertise in leveraging available local, national and global resources to improve access, capacity and compliance, to such. You could say “we provide the why to your what.” Working together, interprofessional teams are able to take a more holistic view of individuals, families, groups and communities we serve.