Stephen C. Shannon, DO, MPH

A Milestone in Interprofessional Education

Three years ago, AACOM began working with five other national health professions education associations to promote and encourage constituent efforts that would advance interprofessional learning experiences to help prepare future clinicians for team-based patient care. In addition to AACOM, the group includes the American Association of Colleges of Nursing, 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.

Last spring, the group released and broadly disseminated the Core Competencies for Interprofessional Collaborative Practice, which identified individual-level core competencies needed by all health professionals to provide integrated, high-quality care. The organizations also have been asked to serve as members of the Institute of Medicine’s Global Forum on Innovation in Health Professional Education, which is set to launch later this month. The forum will convene stakeholders to illuminate issues in health professional education and support an ongoing, innovative mechanism to incubate and evaluate new ideas.  Finally, the organizations served as sponsors of the November 2011 Collaborating Across Borders (CAB) III conference, which brought together more than 750 government leaders, policy makers, health care professionals, educators and students with a strong interest in facilitating interprofessional health education and practice.

With this momentum built, I am very pleased to announce that on January 25, 2012, leaders from the six organizations signed a memorandum of understanding that formalizes its collaboration as the Interprofessional Education Collaborative (IPEC), a new national organization that will focus on better integrating and coordinating the education of  nurses, physicians, dentists, public health professionals, and other members of the patient health care team to provide more collaborative and patient-centered care. IPEC’s founding organizations hope to provide leadership around national initiatives focused on interprofessional education (IPE) advancement, and to disseminate information on IPE exemplars and collaborative practice innovations.

Increasing recognition of team-based care’s potential to enhance quality—in health care, health promotion and disease prevention—has prompted significant amount of support for IPE among leaders in the health professions education and practice communities. And, many osteopathic medical schools already have launched significant IPE efforts to begin graduating physicians who have the capacity, knowledge and experience required to work effectively in team-based practice.  

However, there is a lot we don’t know about IPE. We are set up for a period of innovation and, hopefully, working with one another and with other health professions education organizations, IPEC can provide guidance as to what works best in the education of members of the health care team.

I firmly believe that IPE is a critical component of raising the competencies of aspiring physicians and other health professions students and enabling them to collaborate on meeting the national mandate to provide effective, efficient team-based care. Such care will help ensure our nation’s future health and well-being.

Looking ahead, IPEC will sponsor its first faculty development institute on Building Your Foundation for Interprofessional Education on May 21-23, 2012, in Herndon, VA. The new IPEC institute will provide faculty from across the health professions with the opportunity to meet with peers in plenary and interactive learning sessions focused on building strong programs for team-based learning. More information about the IPEC institute will be available on IPEC’s new website, which is currently under construction but will be accessible by the end of February from the AACOM website.

Inside OME Header
February 2012
Vol. 6, No. 2