The Synergy of True Interprofessional Collaboration

Saturday, 18 March 2017: 10:35 AM

Nassrine Noureddine, EdD, MSN1
Darla K. Hagge, PhD, MA2
Debra Brady, DNP1
William L. Ofstad, PharmD3
(1)School of Nursing, California State University Sacramento, Sacramento, CA, USA
(2)Department of Speech-Language Pathology & Audiology, California State University Sacramento, Sacramento, CA, USA
(3)California Health Sciences University, Clovis, CA, USA


Students in health care professions are traditionally educated in silos yet are expected to function effectively as members of a health care team caring for complex patients in a fast paced environment. It is not surprising that communication problems among healthcare personnel have been implicated as a cause of most patient errors (IOM, 2001, 2003; American Association of Critical Care Nurses [AACN], 2005; Joint Commission, 2005, 2007, 2008; Wachter, 2004). In response, there is a national and international clarion call to re-design healthcare education curriculum and teach students interprofessionally to better prepare a collaborative, practice ready health care workforce. The Institute of Medicine (IOM) strongly advocates that “health professionals should be educated to deliver patient-centered care as members of an interdisciplinary team” (IOM, 2003, p. 20). Interprofessional Education (IPE) exists when students from two or more healthcare disciplines have the opportunity to “learn about, from and with each other to enable effective collaboration and improve health outcomes” (WHO, 2010, pg. 7). The overall purpose of providing IPE for healthcare students is to create a collaborative ready workforce (WHO, 2010).


In response to the international and national clarion call for IPE, educators at two universities created the California Interprofessional Education Research Academy (Noureddine, Hagge, Brady & Ofstad, 2014). The faculty of CA-IPERA created an innovative interprofessional curriculum that included shared didactic, simulation and community-based clinical experiences. This synergistic interprofessional collaboration resulted in significant benefits at the institutional, faculty and student levels.

The purpose of this presentation is to share the synergistic impact of an interprofessional, inter-university collaborative model. The authors will provide a brief background and description of interprofessional education, engage participants in relevant hands-on activities related to improving collaboration and teamwork, and will explore the possible synergistic benefits of implementing interprofessional education.

Interprofessional Education

IPE domains. The Interprofessional Education Collaborative (IPEC) has recently revised its four domain areas of competency. Specifically, there is one broad category: Interprofessional Collaboration (IPEC, 2016). This overarching category embraces four domains which include values and ethics for interprofessional practice, roles and responsibilities, interprofessional communication, and teamwork (IPEC, 2011). The domains were created to address and achieve the Triple Aims of Healthcare: (a) Improve patient care experience, (b) improve health of populations, and (c) reduce the overall cost of health care (IPEC, 2016).

Clinical and Educational Benefits of IPE

There are many clinical benefits of interprofessional education. Practicing healthcare professional receive improved employee morale, practices and productivity. Patients and care partners obtain improved access to healthcare services, improved medical outcomes, and greater patient safety (WHO, 2010). Healthcare students have the opportunity to apply the core content to an interprofessional clinical case study or a clinical setting. In this way, student learning is facilitated through multiple levels of Bloom’s Taxonomy of Learning using a variety of teaching styles and pedagogies such as simulation, experiential opportunities, and co-curricular settings.

Accreditation Expectations for IPE

Accreditation requirements across disciplines are changing rapidly to integrate interprofessional education, especially with the explicit goals of learning to work collaboratively in interprofessional teams. The fields of pharmacy, medicine, physical therapy, and speech-language pathology all require the inclusion of IPE curriculum. Disciplines whose accrediting body require IPE may be exceptional partners in implementing IPE (Noureddine, Hagge, Brady & Ofstad, 2016).

Collaboration and Teamwork

For educators to succeed in teaching IPE they need to model teamwork, good communication and collaboration skills. To that end, they need to be aware of their own biases, personal communication styles and conflict management modes. Faculty implementing IPE need to move away from functioning as a team of experts into functioning as an expert team (Pellegrini, 2016). The content of this workshop will be delivered using interactive engaging team-based activities including administration and interpretation of personal style and conflict management tools, and introducing the audience to best practices in IPE and team building activities for a healthy work culture. Participants will implement gained knowledge and skills by participating in relevant reflective activities.

Benefits of Synergy and Collaboration

Institutional. CA-IPERA’s resultant collaboration positively impacted both universities at the interinstitutional and interdepartmental levels. The universities benefited from the use of shared resources including a simulation labs, large capacity smart classrooms, and an increased number of community partnerships that created new student education opportunities and clinical experiences. This enabled the three disciplines to better meet accreditation standards (Noureddine, Hagge, Brady & Ofstad, in press).

Faculty. Individual faculty members also benefited from the IPE synergy. First, faculty participated in multidisciplinary training and certification in team-based learning, IPE, and simulation. Second, co-curriculum development flourished resulting in the adoption of new concepts and skills such as SBAR, swallow screen, vital signs and lab values. Third, several innovative IP experiences were designed including (a) didactic presentations and activities, (b) experiential learning opportunities (c) campus-based community programs and (d) community-based volunteer work. Furthermore, by working together the faculty modeled the interrelational benefits of collaboration and teamwork in multiple arenas. Finally, IPE synergy resulted in significant and ongoing scholarly contributions by faculty including regional, national and international presentations, multiple publications, and IPE consultations to other organizations (Noureddine, Hagge, Brady & Ofstad, 2016a).

Students. Students benefited from the synergy created by the interprofessional collaboration in multiple ways through: (a) participation in engaging learning activities with multidisciplinary students, (b) increased student-faculty mentoring opportunities, (c) increased opportunities to practice IPE competencies across a variety of settings, and (d) enhanced preparation to join a collaborative practice ready health care workforce (Noureddine, Hagge, Brady & Ofstad, 2016b).


There is a clarion call for healthcare educators to integrate IPE into the curriculum. While preparing collaborative ready health care professionals, IPE provides additional, sophisticated synergistic benefits to all stakeholders: the institutions, faculty and students.