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Interprofessional Education 

Improving healthcare quality by creating team-based healthcare professionals

ISSUE: As we reorganize our health system to improve quality of care, how do we maximize the health professions education strategies that ensure that graduates are competent to deliver patient-centered, team-based care, supported by informatics? [1]

RECOMMENDATION: Align federal health professions education programs with the emerging innovations in healthcare delivery through a strengthened federal commitment, including sustained appropriations, to interprofessional education.

CURRENT LAW: Public Health Service Act, 42 USC 294a et seq. Interdisciplinary, Community-based Linkages [2]

BACKGROUND:  Interprofessional education is recognized as an important contributor to improving healthcare quality [1], reducing medication errors [3] and health outcomes [4]. The primary driver for interprofessional education (IPE) and collaboration is the provision of quality, safe, and cost-effective patient-centered care. Major initiatives associated with a reorganized healthcare system, such as patient centered medical home (PCMH) and accountable care organizations (ACO), are dependent on health professionals prepared to provide patient-centered care that is team-based. 

Colleges and schools of pharmacy are committed to fulfilling educational policy statements of the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy (AACP) in support of interprofessional education [5] through a variety of collaborations and activities. While that commitment is to increase opportunities for the development, implementation and evaluation of interprofessional education continued challenges are readily identified.

The Interprofessional Education Collaborative (IPEC), as stated in The Core Competencies for IPEC Practice [6] identified challenges of current interprofessional education efforts including:

  • Lack of or limited institutional collaborators or partners;
  • Practical issues of scheduling across disciplines;
  • Faculty availability/training across disciplines;
  • Sporadic vs. longitudinal experiences;
  • Required vs. elective experiences
  • One experience vs. integration across the continuum of learning;
  • Assessment or evaluation techniques not identified;
  • Roles and responsibilities of team members not delineated;
  • Real vs. simulated experiences; and
  • Transferability of learning experiences to practice not addressed/assessed.

Successful implementation of the IPEC competencies and improving health quality and patient outcomes through team-based care approaches will require collaboration among policy makers, payers, patients and academic institutions. This collaboration will require a strengthened federal commitment, including sustained appropriations, to interprofessional education.

For additional information contact:

William Lang, MPH
Vice President, Policy and Advocacy
American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy
703-739-2330 x1038


[1] National Research Council. Health Professions Education: A Bridge to Quality. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press, 2003.

[2] United States Code.

[3] National Research Council. Preventing Medication Errors: Quality Chasm Series. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press, 2007.

[4] Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Task Force recommends team-based care for improving blood pressure control. (Press release, May 15, 2012).

[5] Cumulative Policies of the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy

[6] Interprofessional Education Collaborative Expert Panel. (2011). Core competencies for interprofessional collaborative practice: Report of an expert panel. Washington, D.C.: Interprofessional Education Collaborative.



Last updated on: 6/27/2013 2:00 PM 

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