Creating Connections Across Programs: Depth and Breadth of Peer Learning Teams
Author: Kate Shervais
Peer-to-peer learning programs have been a fundamental part of our organization from the beginning. Now we’re learning how to build connections cross-peer-learning programs to connect our networks of networks and amplify the impact of our participants locally and nationally.
Our first national peer learning program was designed in partnership with the Bureau of Primary Health Care (a division of the United States Department of Health and Human Services). Focused on health centers, primary care associations and health center controlled networks (associations of community health centers), and other nonprofits focused on technical assistance/training for health centers, peer groups have ranged from “Health Center 2030” to “Primary Care Association CEOs” to “Emergency Preparedness” to “Innovative Training and Technical Assistance,” to name a few.
In fall of 2017, Integrated Work began its second peer-to-peer learning program for Health and Human Services grantees. Our new program, focused on grantees at academic institutions with funding for workforce-related projects (Bureau of Health Workforce) is now in full swing after a pilot year. Participants come from medical schools, nursing schools, social work schools, and psychiatry schools as well as health centers, the VA, and local health and human services departments. Their grant dollars are focused on working with students at the very beginning of their careers to increase the number of primary care providers and get providers to the places that desperately need them. Our three peer groups for this program are focused on “Academic and Community Partnerships”, “Behavioral Health Integration to Address the Opioid Crisis,” and “Rural Health.”
This fall, we began to leverage our network of primary care associations and our network of academic institutions to build connections cross-peer learning programs. These grantees – from either program – are working on aspects of the same great challenges using funding dollars from the same source. Academic institutions and health centers are both fundamental parts of the communities they serve, and each bring a different – and essential – perspective to these issues. Why shouldn’t we leverage our position as convener to assist in building these connections?
As we hear from participants on either peer learning program about state-specific or locality-specific challenges, we’ve identified potential sources of partnership for them and connected stakeholders to increase the impact of grant dollars and the important work in the community. In the coming months, we plan to bring together cross-program groups working on the opioid crisis and telemedicine; continue to build bridges between our connections that are geographically close or working on like challenges; and identify pressing trends that impact both universities and health centers to further leverage our position as convener of both programs.