First Year PA Student Blog: Lila Lehtola


I serve as the Interprofessional Education (IPE) Chair for our student organization, the Stead Society. In this role, I am the liaison between the Stead Society/my classmates and the Duke Health Center for Interprofessional Education and Care (IPEC). IPEC is made up of students and faculty from the School of Medicine and the School of Nursing. The School of Medicine includes physician assistant (PA), doctor of medicine, physical therapy, and occupational therapy students. The PA program alone has nine students who are part of IPEC. Six are from the Class of 2024 and three are from the Class of 2023. During IPEC meetings, we think of new interprofessional learning situations we could incorporate or ways we can make a preexisting event into an interprofessional opportunity.

I ran for this position on Stead Society because I was a dietitian prior to PA school and saw how vital interprofessionalism is. Interprofessionalism is so important because it helps clinicians provide the best care for our patients. As health care professionals, that is our shared goal. We need a team because no one person can do it all. My favorite part of IPE is not only do we get to learn with our colleagues in the classroom but also, it is encouraged that we meet outside of the classroom. I have made friendships with those in other programs of the School of Medicine and School of Nursing and I think that builds rapport and the trust we need when we work alongside each other. I am able to learn more about their professions and ask questions on their perspectives.

Haunted hospital
8th annual Haunted Hospital IPEC event

So far this year, IPEC has hosted a fall and spring workshop called FLIP which stands for foundations for learning interprofessional practice. The fall workshop focused on what each provider brings to the team while the spring workshop focused on interprofessional team collaboration and communication. Around Halloween, IPEC hosted the eighth annual “Haunted Hospital.” This was a fun learning opportunity where students walk through various clinical simulations led by faculty from all of the health care profession disciplines. It is spooky-themed and a really fun way to get hands-on learning. There were stations for learning how to tie tourniquets, intubate, do wound packing, and then we got to diagnose and treat practice patients like Count Dracula!

There was also a case review earlier this month about eating disorders which was incredibly educational and enlightening. Eating disorders can be very complex and require an entire team, so this was a great interprofessional event, especially since most health care professionals do not get enough education in this area unless they specialize in it. This May, we are having our first-ever IPE formal at a local Durham venue. This was part of my platform when I ran for IPE Chair. I wanted to have a formal and had the idea for a fundraiser, which will be even more fun with other disciplines. We are thrilled that the formal will be a fundraiser for the Carolina Abortion Fund! There is also a spring fling with field day activities coming up in the next few months. It will be nice to bring some competition to the table. We also have monthly interprofessional happy hours. I think that is something that pleasantly surprised me, IPE events are not strictly in the classroom. There are dances, field days, happy hours, service opportunities, and even pick-up soccer on the weekends. IPE is definitely growing and I feel so lucky to work with a team who shares my passion about interprofessionalism.

IPE MLK event




Lila Lehtola is a first-year student with the Duke Physician Assistant Program. Email with questions.

Editor’s note: Duke Physician Assistant Program students blog monthly. Blogs represent the opinion of the author, not the Duke Physician Assistant Program, the Department of Family Medicine and Community Health, or Duke University.

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