Interprofessional Education: What is it and Why do we do it?


Interprofessional Education: What is it and
Why do we do it? Interprofessional and team-based approaches
to health care and health professions education are sweeping across the U.S. A January 2013 report by the Macy Foundation
pointed to the rapid and simultaneous redesign of both health care delivery and health professions
education, explaining that change in health care delivery is being driven by the Institute
for Health Care Improvement’s Triple Aim: • Improving the patient’s experience of
care • Improving the health of individuals and
populations, and • Reducing the per capita cost of health
care The reform of health professions education
on the other hand, is being propelled forward by a “growing awareness of the importance
of achieving team-based clinical competencies as an essential public good.” The report noted that a “Key to these efforts
is the recognition that health care today involves professionals working together in
collaborative, interdependent care systems, and in partnership with the people served
by these systems.” At the University of Arizona, the Interprofessional
Education & Practice program, more commonly referred to as IPEP, is working with academic
and community partners to ensure that our health professions education provides hands-on
opportunities for students to learn and practice in collaborative, team-based environments
to provide quality, safe and patient-centered care. So exactly what is interprofessional education? According to the World Health Organization,
interprofessional education “occurs when students from two or more professions learn about,
from, and with each other to enable effective collaboration and improve health outcomes.” The reason for interprofessional education
is simple. The patient. It’s all about the patient. It’s about better, safer and higher
quality patient-centered care. At its core, interprofessional education is
simply about learning together to improve the health and safety of patients. The concept of interprofessional education
is not new, nor is it limited to just a few professions. In June 2002, over 150 leaders and experts
in health professions education, regulation, policy, advocacy, quality, and industry attended
the Health Professions Education Summit to discuss and develop strategies for restructuring
clinical education to be consistent with the principles of the 21st-century health system. The report from this summit concluded that:
“All health professionals should be educated to deliver patient-centered care as members
of an interdisciplinary team, emphasizing evidence-based practice, quality improvement
approaches, and informatics.” Many experts and leaders agree that, “Collaboration
and teamwork can best be achieved if it starts early, with students from different professions
engaging in interactive learning with each other.” In 2009, six national health professions education
associations formed a collaborative to promote and encourage interprofessional learning to
prepare future clinicians for team-based care of patients. The organization became known
as IPEC, short for Interprofessional Education Collaborative. IPEC gave the following charge to a panel
of experts in health sciences education and practice:
“recommend a common core set of competencies relevant across the professions to address
the essential preparation of clinicians for interprofessional collaborative practice” In May 2011, the IPEC expert panel report
was published as the Core Competencies for Interprofessional Collaborative Practice. “The competencies are designed to help transform
the nation’s health care system so it provides collaborative, high quality, and cost effective
care for all patients.” Only one year later, in 2012, several organizations
including the University of Arizona’s IPEP program had already officially incorporated
the IPEC core competencies into their interprofessional education curriculum. 2012 and 2013 have been landmark years for
interprofessional education. We saw both national and international organizations take deliberate
action to support the reform of health care education and practice. On February 3, 2012, leaders from dentistry,
medicine, nursing, pharmacy, and public health signed a memorandum of understanding to reaffirm
their commitment to continued collaboration and leadership on initiatives related to interprofessional
education and practice. In September 2012, we saw the birth of the
National Center for Interprofessional Education and Collaborative Practice. The center, funded
by a 4 million dollar grant from the Health Resources and Services Administration, is
based at the University of Minnesota’s Academic Health Center. The University of Arizona is one of ten institutions
included in the grant and is an active partner in the National Center’s Nexus Innovations
Incubator. In October 2012 – The International Pharmaceutical
Federation called on every pharmacy professional association around the world to work towards
interprofessional collaboration. In February 2013 the Liaison Committee on
Medical Education or LCME, approved a new accreditation standard declaring that: “The core curriculum of a medical education
program must prepare medical students to function collaboratively on health care teams that
include health professionals from other disciplines…” In March 2013 an American Hospital Association
survey on workforce planning showed that nearly 75% of AHA member hospitals are implementing
multi-disciplinary care teams, and another 62% are training them. In May 2013 Darrell G. Kirch, President of
the Association of American Medical Colleges gave a presentation titled: Will the University
of Arizona Lead Us to a New Excellence in Healthcare? After carefully outlining challenges and issues
the University of Arizona faces, Kirch announced that the number one thing UA can do to be
a leader in health care education and practice is Interprofessional Education. As he made
the announcement, he displayed a slide featuring the IPEP logo and photos from IPEP interprofessional
education events. As interprofessional teamwork and collaboration
become the norm in health professions education and health care delivery, the IPEP program
works to ensure that the University of Arizona will be in the top tier of institutions that
successfully prepare students for this changing landscape of health care delivery.

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