It is clear to many leading national organizations, such as the Institute of Medicine and other professional groups and accrediting bodies that learning in teams with other health professionals is an important way to improve the health and safety of the population. Interprofessional Education Collaborative Expert Panel (2011), identified four Competency Domains for interprofessional collaborative practice: values and ethics, roles and responsibilities, teams and teamwork, and communication.
Interprofessional health education (IHE) is an innovative teaching-learning approach in which members of more than one health profession learn interactively to improve collaborative practice. The purpose of IHE is to foster strong relationships and partnerships among health care providers to maximize the quality of patient care.
IHE is both interprofessional and intercollegiate in nature. Participants include graduate students in the School of Nursing, Department of Nutrition and Dietetics, and Physical Therapy Program at one southeastern university as well as second year students from the College of Pharmacy at another southeastern university. Three sessions are planned across an academic year. These case studies include all elements of the four interprofessional education competency domains centered around case studies in ethics, safety, and medication errors. Students do preparatory readings prior to each session, upon which they are tested. Students then participate in interprofessional group solutions for problems related to the content areas.
Faculty in the various disciplines facilitate interpersonal and communication skills between the students representing different health-care providers. Students practice shared decision-making, manage conflicts and show flexibility when working with others. Ultimately, joint learning opportunities for students from different health science colleges will result in more collaborative practice skills when these students become health professionals, and this in turn will lead to higher quality, safer clinical care.