Healthcare Interprofessional Education (IPE)

This past week, the Healthcare Interprofessional Education of Pioneer Valley collaborative, composed of administrators and faculty in healthcare and health sciences disciplines from colleges and universities in the greater Springfield, MA area, held an open development program to help “Raise Your IPE IQ” for faculty involved in educating students (nursing, pharmacy, physical and occupational therapy, physician assistant, etc.) who will someday serve patients. And who most likely will serve patients as part of a care team of individuals from different health professions.

The idea of IPE, health professionals from different areas working together in a more coordinated fashion to improve patient care, is not a new one. The 2001 report from the Institute of Medicine (IOM), Crossing the Quality Chasm: A New Health System for the 21st Century, stated as one of the ten rules in redesigning the [U.S.] health system: “Clinicians and institutions should actively collaborate and communicate to ensure an appropriate exchange of information and coordination of care.”

And, in the landmark 2010 IOM report, The Future of Nursing: Leading Change, Advancing Health, one of the research priorities under the Teamwork section, included “Identification and testing of educational innovations that have the potential to increase health care professionals’ ability to serve as productive, collaborative care team members.”

However, with the roll out of the Affordable Care Act, (ACA), there are new incentives to advance interprofessional education and practice. On the announcement that the University of Minnesota Academic Health Center was selected by HRSA to lead a new coordinating center for interprofessional education and collaborative practice, Frederick Chen, Senior Advisor to HRSA, in an interview with the Josiah Macy Jr. Foundation, stated:

“We need to ensure our health professionals are trained to work effectively in these new delivery systems. That means training health professions students and trainees in a different way and in different models—teaching them what it means to work together and giving them practical experience in clinical settings where interprofessional practice is happening. In this way, IPE is very much aligned with our national strategy to create a better health system.”

And, as medicine and healthcare delivery becomes more globally interdependent through demographic shifts and technology innovations, the education of health professionals must be looked at globally as well. A 2013 IOM Global Forum on Innovation in Health Professional Education workshop report, states:

“When contributions from each specialty field are well coordinated, the individual person or patient benefits from the communication among all the providers, resulting in improved health and better care as well as less duplication of services and cost savings. Working in this way — keeping the whole person at the center of co-ordination and education — is advantageous to all and can have particular impact when non-health professionals, such as policy makers, city planners, and religious leaders, assist in delivering specific health messages.”

The individuals from the greater Springfield, MA area colleges and universities who organized, and all who participated in the 2014 Healthcare Interprofessional Education of Pioneer Valley’s “Raise Your IPE IQ” faculty development event should be applauded. This is a clear and encouraging sign that the discourse on interprofessional education and practice at the national and international levels is resulting in collaborative work at the local level, with the beneficiaries being all who are served by the healthcare system in western Massachusetts and beyond.

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