Academic journal article Journal of Allied Health

Key Factors in Planning and Implementing Interprofessional Education in Health Care Settings

Academic journal article Journal of Allied Health

Key Factors in Planning and Implementing Interprofessional Education in Health Care Settings

Article excerpt

Interprofessional education (IPE) is regarded by many health care practitioners (i.e., nurses, occupational therapists, physicians), educators, and policy makers as an important activity to enhance the quality of teamwork and patient care. While the focus on developing an evidence basis for IPE has demonstrated the potential value of IPE for improving collaboration and patient outcomes, exploration of key concepts that underpin IPE has been overlooked. In this commentary, we aim to begin addressing this oversight by identifying and discussing key conceptual factors that are critical for the planning and implementation of IPE. We draw upon our prior IPE curricula development and research experiences, as well as the published literature, to argue that seven interconnecting learner-focused, faculty-focused, and organization-focused factors are key to the successful planning and implementation of IPE. We also argue that IPE planners need to be cognizant of all seven factors and how they interact with one another to help ensure they maximize success in their work. J Allied Health 2007; 36:231-235.

THE OFTEN COMPLEX NATURE of patients' acute and/or chronic care needs demands that health care professionals collaborate in an effective manner. However, research has repeatedly indicated that interprofessional collaboration can be problematic, often due to a poor knowledge of how to work effectively within a health care team.1,2 Interprofessional education (IPE), defined as "occasions when members (or students) of two or more professions associated with health or social care engage in learning with, from and about each other," is being increasingly recognized as playing a key role in fostering the competencies-attitudes, knowledge, skills, and behavior-required for effective interprofessional collaboration.3 This valuing of IPE is evident in the varied efforts being undertaken by many educational, regulatory, and professional organizations to incorporate IPE into their programs, requirements, and policies.4,5

The incorporation of IPE into academic and clinical settings is a complex undertaking given the diverse range of students, professionals, and organizations involved as well as the challenges in introducing and sustaining such innovations. As IPE becomes more mainstream,4 it is imperative that those involved in its planning have a knowledge of how to optimize the success of their IPE programs. Systematic reviews describing the growing evidence base for IPE have suggested that IPE can have a number of benefits for learners as well as patients/clients.2,6 While these reviews have provided us with a more informed understanding of the outcomes related to IPE, there are still gaps in our conceptual knowledge of planning and implementing effective IPE. To help address this current shortfall, this commentary identifies and discusses seven interlinked learner-focused, faculty-focused, and organization-focused factors that are key to successful IPE planning and implementation.

Learner-Focused Factors

In this section, we argue that IPE planners need an understanding of the following three learner-focused factors"promoting interprofessional interaction," "group dynamics: professional balance and stability," and "relevance and status: ensuring IPE is valued"-to optimize success in their work.

PROMOTING INTERPROFESSIONAL INTERACTION

The definition of IPE outlined previously stresses the need for explicit interprofessional interaction between participants. It is argued that this form of interaction within IPE promotes the development of the competencies required for effective collaboration.7-9 Consequently, the planners of IPE should utilize appropriate educational strategies. Banhas outlined a range of interactive learning methods that can be used in the delivery of an IPE program7 (Table 1).

To maximize opportunities for interaction, several learning activities are typically used within IPE programs, such as exchange-based, problem-focused, and simulation-based learning. …

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