IPE Virtual Student Elective Program Fact Sheet 2021

An ECFMG | FAIMER- GEMx AFREhealth Partnership

Authors :  Faith  Nawagi ,  Phionah Asaba


Program Overview About the Initiative

Student exchanges within the context of Interprofessional Education (IPE) is a priority for AFREHealth in moving forward its capacity-building efforts through student electives placements in African nations. AFREhealth has partnered with ECFMG FAIMER through its GEMx program, to develop an IPE student exchange model, to provide a cohort of African students from various health disciplines, with a platform to engage in a virtual 6-week elective placement in another country to gain global exposure, taking an IPE learning approach that cultivates collaborative practice among future health professionals.


IPE refers to occasions when students from two or more professions in health and social care learn together; with, from, and about each other during all or part of their professional training, to cultivate collaborative practice for providing client- or patient-centered health care (WHO 2010). Interprofessional Collaborative Practice (ICP/IPC) in health care occurs when multiple health and non-health workers from different professional backgrounds provide comprehensive services by working with patients, their families, carers, and communities to deliver the highest quality of care across settings (WHO 2010).

Why IPE exchanges in Africa

The current global burden of disease which includes emerging and re-emerging diseases calls for interprofessional partnerships even beyond one's country of practice (O’Keefe, Henderson, and Chick 2017). A vivid example is the West African Ebola outbreak in 2014 that required multinational health teams to halt the epidemic (WHO 2018). Currently, it's COVID-19 that is a Pandemic. Hardly any opportunities that cultivate interprofessional learning experiences through attachments in health care settings different from that at home are available.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and our role in promoting safety in the international learning space, a decision was - made to run a pilot for virtual IPE elective mobility last year 2021 with the 15 AFREhealth participating institutions as we observed the situation for safety in actual mobility in the future. This approach was approved by AFREhealth executive leadership and ECFMG|FAIMER leadership.

The program is  running in its year two in 2022 using the same format of program implementation as last year. Research  and program evaluation activities will commencethis year and conclude in 2023.

Virtual mobility involves students and teachers in higher education working with another institution outside their own country to study or teach for a limited time, without physically leaving their home (Vriens 2010). It involves a set of information and communication technologies (ICT) supported activities organized at the institutional level to facilitate international collaborative experiences in the context of teaching and learning (Vriens 2010).

The IPE virtual elective program is aimed at equipping medical students and other health professionals with IPC skills stemming from the IPE/IPC core values. These include; Teamwork, Communication Skills, Ethics, Roles, and Responsibilities (IPEC2010). The IPC skills gained will in the long run contribute to enhanced health care outcomes as they go out to practice in the future as well as addressing health emergencies.

Virtual IPE Elective Approach

Each partnering institution has developed a country-specific case study/ problem statement of choice in a given discipline on a particular health concern/disease. These case studies have been incorporated into IPE elective curriculum with each having teaching plans and activities to probe students to work interprofessionally and collectively come up with an innovative approach to address the key issue they have found. Each school has selected a cohort of two faculty that have been trained on IPEC competencies and training in a virtual elective setting. The curriculum has been posted in the GEMx web system by the managers at each institution as a virtual elective.

Student participation

We had  a total of 65 students from various disciplines participating in last year’s program

The 13 participating institutions selected a cohort of 5 students in a multidisciplinary representation.These students were assessed online for prior knowledge on IPE using an online survey, taken through the Precourse online program orientation , and accepted to an elective of choice as a cohort through the online GEMx web-based system. Students  participated  as per the times that worked best for them by Dec 2021 for 6 weeks. At the end of the program, a post elective online survey and a detailed group report was submitted by each cohort of students. This is the same approach going to be followed this year.

Online student-faculty interactions

We had  a total of 27 faculty from various disciplines that participated in this program last year.

Students were introduced to their supervising faculty and manager at the host institution by email. The students and the faculty  harmonized  dates and times  for their weekly one- hour sessions for the 6 weeks and  recurring zoom links were provided by GEMx. Furthermore,   email consultations andWhatsApp interaction groups were initiated. Teaching plans and learning materials  were shared with the selected students.

Program Assessment

Students must fill out a Pre- and post-assessment survey using survey monkey to enable us to capture the various IPC skills gained and the learning experience. Each student cohort will also record a short video on their experience.

Mangers, faculty, and leadership will also be sent a post-program survey to collect their feedback..

A general virtual symposium with students, leadership, and faculty to exhibit a group experience narrative and feedback at a later time will be held. A full program evaluation has been developed and will be launched and completed by Dec 2023.


The funds for this initiative are provided for under the AFREhealth NIH grant under the auspice of the ECFMG|FAIMER-GEMx program.

Lat year 2021, the supervising faculty were given a stipend for their time with the students. Students  were given a stipend to facilitate their adequate internet connectivity and online platform to meet. IPE experts  were paid too and each institution - received an administrative fund to cater  for administrative costs.

Knowledge Experts

The program has 4 knowledge experts in IPE to guide the program and faculty.

Current Progress Summary

IPE Program Progress  Update 2021

1. Approval from AFREhealth and FAIMER leadership to implement the program virtually

2. 13 institutions from 10 African countries participated in the program

3 . Development of country-specific case studies done in partnership with each institution faculty

4. Development of elective curriculum in line with IPE done and completed

5. online web-based system for centralized application done and all managers

retrained on the system to post their elective and manage applications.

6. Faculty selection done and I would like to report we have a total of 26 faculty, 2 from each institution and all in interprofessional representation. These will as well guide the student learning in this year 2022.


7. 5 step student orientation process to monitor and track activity done and will apply for this year 2022 too.

8. MOUS for grant dissemination and wire transfer details were disseminated to all schools and collection was complete. Same procedure to be done for this year’s program.

9. IPE experts in interprofessional representation were obtained, worked closely with them to guide the development of the program with an emphasis on IPEC competencies in international electives. These will again work with the team for this year 2022.

10. Pre and Post elective surveys were developed and built in the ECFMG FAIMER MSforms for utilization. These were adapted from ICCAS 2018 and modified to suit the program and setting. Pre-participation. Same surveys will be utilized for this year’s program as well.

11. 65 students were selected from disciplines of Medicine, nursing, pharmacy, physiotherapy, public health, laboratory medicine, nutrition, etc. Each school - selected 5 students.


12. Student online pre-orientation course on IPEC competencies and students’ expectations

were developed and delivered using voice overpower points to students who had completed the pre elective survey

13. Zoom platform to facilitate virtual interactions between the students and faculty were developed and provided for by GEMx.

14. Teaching plans and reference and teaching materials were developed with the faculty at each training institution and delivered to the students as per the timetable of their sessions

15 Faculty training workshop with the GEMx FAIMER team and the IPE experts was developed and conducted on 19th Jul 2021

17. Program Evaluation Plan was developed with Snigdha and the consultants and its already being developed into a proposal for Local IRB approval

18. Reporting guide was developed and sent to the students

19, End Program Evaluation to be completed Dec 2023.


2021 Student enrollment and Participation dates


Home School

Host School





26th July – 3rd Sept




2nd Aug – 10th Sept




2nd Aug – 10th Sept




2nd Aug – 10th Sept




2nd Aug – 10th Sept




16th Aug – 24th Sept




23rd Aug – 1st Oct




30th Aug – 8th Oct




1st Sept– 15th Oct




6th Sept – 15th Oct




13th Sept – 22nd Oct




13th Sept – 22nd Oct




4th Oct – 12th Nov



IPE-AFREhealth Network: Participating Institutions


About us

The African Forum for Research and Education in Health (AFREhealth) is an interprofessional health grouping that seeks to work all stakeholders interested in health profession education , research and service delivery to improve the quality of health care in Africa through research, education and capacity building. It is a conglomerate of individuals, institutions, associations and networks from all the geographic and linguistic regions of Africa namely Anglophone, Francophone, Lusophone and Arabophone. Read More...

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