Michael Friedlander, executive director of the Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute, recently responded to an article published in an Association of American Medical Colleges newsletter. The AAMC article offered an analysis of interprofessional education, in which medical students learn collaboratively with students in other medical professions, such as nursing and physician assisting. Friedlander’s response was published in the Wing of Zock, a popular AAMC blog for professionals and students at medical schools and teaching hospitals.

In the posting, Friedlander argued that health researchers should be included in the grouping of collaborative education for medical students.

“Without interactions between health providers and health researchers, each group will go its own way at a cost to patients,” Friedlander wrote. “Whatever we can do to facilitate those interactions, lower barriers, and incentivize collaboration and mutual education should increase the likelihood for better health care.”

Friedlander recommended that relationships between medical students and health researchers be forged early in education. He cited the Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine and Research Institute as a model.

“Here, medical students carry out research with health researchers and providers; their education is delivered by researchers and providers; and they participate in some interactive classes and projects with other graduate students training to be health researchers from our PhD program in Translational Biology, Medicine, and Health,” he wrote.

“I cannot think of any two groups that are potentially as important for interacting to improve health outcomes than health care providers and health researchers,” Friedlander added.