Academic journal article Creative Nursing

Preparing Nursing Students to Be Effective Health Team Partners through Interprofessional Education

Academic journal article Creative Nursing

Preparing Nursing Students to Be Effective Health Team Partners through Interprofessional Education

Article excerpt

This article will provide an overview of recent significant activities related to interprofessional education to promote care quality through teamwork and collaboration, followed by a discussion of what nursing schools can do to develop the knowledge, skills, attitudes, and values to enhance health care team performance and care outcomes.

The concept of interprofessional education (IPE) and its importance to delivery of high-quality care by teams of health professionals has been frequently debated in education and practice settings alike. Unfortunately, the concept's popularity has ebbed and flowed over the last two decades. Recent events in the U.S. health care system, including the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA, 2010) and continued documentation of health care outcomes that are lagging behind those of other industrialized countries, have promoted renewed commitment to teamwork and collaboration within health care teams. The PPACA will significantly increase the number of previously uninsured people seeking care, adding stress to the current health care system. Therefore, the health care system and the organizations within it are redesigning how care is delivered in order to ensure access to health care services by more people. Elements of this redesign include an increased focus on primary and preventive care, better management of chronic disease (including preventing hospitalizations), and improved coordination of care and care transitions. Each of these will require health care professionals to work effectively in teams, ensuring maximal contributions from each discipline in order to coordinate, deliver, enhance, and evaluate care across settings and populations. This critical goal cannot be met without effective teamwork and collaboration skills; thus, creation of new team-based models of care will be the defining element for future success.

Although it is clear that practicing health care professionals will need to develop effective teamwork and collaboration skills and processes, it is timely to consider how to prepare health professions students for these new team care approaches and cultures so that they are ready to contribute as soon as they begin to practice. There is wide consensus that creating opportunities for health professions students to learn together through IPE will be of growing importance in preparing future health professionals.

Interprofessional education may be defined as two or more types of health professions students learning together to develop the knowledge, skills, and attitudes required for effective collaboration and health care team functioning (Centre for the Advancement of Interprofessional Education [CAIPE], 2002). True IPE is designed to promote enhanced knowledge of the various disciplines, their respective roles, and overlapping areas, while incorporating reflective interaction required for experiential learning. In most current health professions education environments, students share classes only with others in their discipline or, if a faculty member from another discipline delivers a lecture or course module, formal examination of how the professions need to be working together is not included.


Two recent national efforts have created a strong consensus on what competencies health professions students should develop to prepare them for professional practice. First, in 2009, six national health professions education associations formed the Interprofessional Education Collaborative (IPEC). These six associations are the American Association of Colleges of Nursing, the American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine, the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy, the American Dental Education Association, the Association of American Medical Colleges, and the Association of Schools of Public Health.

In 2011, IPEC issued a panel report entitled Core Competencies for Interprofessional Collaborative Practice. …

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