Academic journal article International Public Health Journal

Innovations in Continuing Professional Education: A Model to Impact Interprofessional Collaboration

Academic journal article International Public Health Journal

Innovations in Continuing Professional Education: A Model to Impact Interprofessional Collaboration

Article excerpt

Introduction

Challenges exist for public health workforce development in both developing countries and wealthier countries alike. Beaglehole and Dal Poz (1) relate this challenge to the traditional emphasis on formal academic and didactic training with very limited attention being paid to training methods that are field-based continuing education where the workforce can participate in work group training that addresses the diversity and complexity of the healthcare team from a wide range of occupational backgrounds (1). Patients today have complex medical issues requiring more than one healthcare professional which calls for interprofessional collaboration (2). In 2001, acknowledging the medically challenging needs of patients, the Institute of Medicine (IOM) Committee on Quality of Health Care in America recommended that healthcare professionals be able to work in interprofessional (IP) teams (3). The research of Schofield et al. demonstrated that, especially for complex, chronic conditions, a multidisciplinary, or IP, team offers many advantages for patients and their families (4). Bringing an interprofessional focus to the development of innovative care delivery models requires collaboration among the health professions to increase learning about, from and with each other, as well as incorporation of a patient centered perspective (5). A growing consensus exists that interprofessional (IP) team- based care offers the potential to improve quality of care and lower costs (6). However, Varda et al. emphasize that even though there is growing interest in collaborative practice in public health, there is still little empirical evidence within the public health literature to support and inform this practice (7). According to Gebbie and Turnock, public health is especially challenged due to the multidisciplinary nature of services provided (8), and there is often very limited opportunities for workforce training and continuing education interventions that address the need for interprofessional collaboration. In November 2012 the Global Health Forum on Innovation in Health Professional Education convened in Washington, D.C. One of the obstacles identified for implementing IP education was "knowing how to weave IP content into meaningful clinical and community experiences" (9). Such obstacles, while challenging for students, become even more daunting when the learners are practicing clinicians where continuing education programs need to be relevant to current practice needs, and delivered in ways that encourage professional development. This study provides a model for continuing education that addresses the need to engage learners in ways that use authentic tasks to develop interprofessional collaboration.

Collaborative partnerships in practice

Bringing an interprofessional focus to the development of innovative care delivery models requires collaboration among the health professions to increase learning about, from and with each other (10), as well as incorporation of a patient centered perspective. Continuing professional education research emphasizes that educating working professionals must use authentic projects that have relevance in practice. To date, there is very limited research addressing knowledge translation or continuing professional education within the interprofessional context (11). Further, the World Health Organization (WHO) supports the development of evidence to inform best approaches to public health workforce development (1).

Interprofessional teams develop through interprofessional collaboration. Interprofessional collaboration is a "partnership between a team of health providers and a client in a participatory collaborative and coordinated approach to shared decision making around health and social issues" (12). These collaborations "create an interprofessional practice team where healthcare providers from different professional backgrounds work together with patients, families, and communities to deliver the best quality of care. …

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