Interprofessional education

Definition: When students or health professionals from two or more professions learn about, from and with each other to enable effective collaboration and improve health outcomes (World Health Organization 2010).

The aim of IPE is for health professionals at any stage of their professional lives to be able to work together and with patient, families, carers and communities, to deliver the highest quality of care. 

The concept of IPE dates back over 60 years and is a global movement.  However, its adoption into different health professions training has been variable globally and within individual countries. 

The rationale for IPE is that health professional students and qualified health professionals need to understand the health care system in which they will be or are working. They need to understand the complexities of patient pathways through their national health system: how consumers access health care, its cost and referrals between multiple providers.  

In the twenty-first century, health and social care delivery is necessarily a collaborative process as biomedical knowledge increases, health professionals specialise in narrower fields, and many patients move between primary (community/general practice), secondary (local hospitals) and tertiary (highly specialized) care sectors.  The population is ageing and there are more people with chronic and complex conditions, such as heart disease, diabetes and arthritis.  Social determinates of health (e.g., poverty and access to care) may affect health outcomes and must also be considered by health care teams. It is rare that one health profession can meet the needs and expectations of each patient, family and community. 

However, as during my medical training, health professional students mostly at universities may be educated with minimal interaction with other professions unless IPE is provided. This may cause poor communication between professions in clinical practice – poor communication being a frequent cause of poor patient outcomes and lack of safety.

There is increasing evidence that IPE is effective in promoting team-based and collaborative practice, and some evidence that team-based practice can lead to improved patient care. 

IPE may be summed up as: ‘learning together to work together’.

Below are 2 documents that may be of interest:

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