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Collaboration to Advance Medical Education: IPE and IPP

From the October 2015 Inside OME

Stephen C. Shannon, DO, MPH


his month’s newsletter is focused on interprofessional collaboration—a topic that is timely not only because of the work currently being done by the many valuable institutional and organizational partnerships within and without the osteopathic medical education (OME) community, but also because of the shift in both health care and medical and health professions education toward more interprofessional collaborative models.

There is growing evidencei that when health care professionals work together to care for patients, patients receive better quality care and better health outcomes. However, generating a framework that essentially remodels the health care system is far more complicated than simply understanding and supporting the concept. While evolving changes in payment models from fee-for-service to prospective payment system of health care delivery provide an environment for team-based care, in order for national interprofessional collaborative practice to become a reality, committed physicians and other health care providers, administrators, public health professionals, policy makers, and other leaders and experts in health education and practice must work together to enable functioning, full-fledged integrated health care structures to emerge. And the role of osteopathic medical education in the training of the next generation of physician leaders needs to be a fundamental aspect of that transformation.

In 2009, AACOM and the leaders from five other health professions education organizations—the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN), the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy (AACP), the American Dental Education Association (ADEA), the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC), and the Association of Schools and Programs of Public Health (ASPPH)—formed a collaborative to promote and encourage constituent efforts that would advance substantive interprofessional learning experiences to help prepare future health professionals for enhanced team-based care of patients and improved population health outcomes. These organizations, which represent higher education in allopathic and osteopathic medicine, dentistry, nursing, pharmacy, and public health, developed Core Competencies for Interprofessional Collaborative Practice iito guide curricula development across health professions schools. In subsequent years, the six organizations formalized the Interprofessional Education Collaborative (IPEC), collaborated with the AAMC and Josiah Macy Jr. Foundation to form a resource depository at the MedEdPORTAL-IPEC Collection, have held nine IPE faculty-team development institutes (with two more planned in 2016), joined with other health professions education organizations to develop the Institute of Medicine’s Global Forum on Innovation in Health Profession Education, and have fostered the implementation and/or refinement of standards for accreditation in each of their respective professional education accrediting bodies.

In 2013, IPEC incorporated as a 501(c)(3) to further its work. IPEC has also worked with colleague health professions education associations and many other interprofessional initiatives, including the National Center for Interprofessional Practice and Education, Collaborations Across Borders, the Federation of Associations of Schools of the Health Professions and others. The IPEC organizations have held their own IPE-focused conferences, e.g. the Joint AACOM & AODME 2011 Annual Meeting themed “Meeting Future Health Care Needs: The Role of Interprofessional Education,” in April 2011, and its leaders have spoken at many of health professions organizations meetings, individual schools and other settings. In 2016, IPEC plans to expand membership opportunities to other associations committed to interprofessional collaborative practice.

Clearly, these efforts have been a priority for AACOM’s and the other five IPEC partner associations. In addition to myself, AACOM Vice President and Chair for Medical Education Luke Mortensen, PhD, has been intricately involved in all the educational efforts and planning provided by IPEC as well as fostering a community of faculty and administrators within our member colleges to provide resources to for this initiative. AACOM was a sponsor of this year’s Collaborations Across Borders V (CAB V) event, which was hosted by the American lnterprofessional Health Collaborative and the Canadian lnterprofessional Health Collaborative. This event provides a forum for leaders and other members of the expanding community of individuals and organizations committed to interprofessional collaboration to gather and engage in productive dialogue while learning about new best practices, approaches, and theories related to IPE and interprofessional collaborative practice (IPCP). At CAB V, Dr. Mortensen delivered a well-received presentation on interprofessional professionalism, a frontier that AACOM is also embarking on this fall.

Recognition of team-based care’s potential to enhance quality in health care, wellness promotion, and disease prevention has bolstered support for IPE among leaders in the health professions education and practice communities, with many osteopathic medical schools leading the way with substantial IPE curricular efforts already well underway (visit AACOM’s IPE page for more information). The many sessions and posters with an IPE focus at each annual conference are an example of the work going on within our educational system to prepare graduates to practice in team-based, integrated systems delivering patient-centered care.

There is still a lot we don’t know about IPE in terms of best practices and educational and clinical outcomes. The necessary marrying of interprofessional education and collaborative practice offers its own challenges. In fact, there are many areas ripe for innovation and research along these lines. Nevertheless, as I have pointed out in previous columns in recent yearsiii, team-based care is the direction health care is headed, and osteopathic physicians should be trained to perform as leaders and as participants in that system. Keeping in mind what is best for the patient, what will improve their health and the health of their community, what will make health care delivery more efficient and promote preventative medicine, we—as a major component of the nation's emerging health care system—must offer our energies to this area of innovation as we continue to advance our mission to improve the health of our nation.

i IOM Global Forum on Innovation in Health Professional Education

 Core Competencies for Interprofessional Collaborative Practice
 JAOA article, “Reevaluating Osteopathic Medical Education for the 21st Century and Beyond
JAOA article, “Osteopathic Medical Education in 2011: Adapting to Changes in the Healthcare System
Inside OME article, “The Growing Case for Interprofessional Education
Inside OME article, “Health Care Reform and Why Interprofessional Education Makes Sense