Interprofessional
Continuing Education

Charles Pollack, M.D.

Continuing Professional Development

Interprofessional Education (IPE): When students from two or more professions learn with, from, and about each other to enable effective collaboration and improve health outcomes. (World Health Organization, 2010)

Interprofessional Continuing Education (IPCE): When members from two or more professions learn with, from and about each other to enable effective collaboration and improve health outcomes. (ACCME, ACPE, ANCC, 2014)

Not much difference, eh? The truth is, health sciences universities are doing a much better job than they have in the past of recognizing the benefits of collaborative interprofessional training at the undergraduate and graduate education levels. To clinicians of the newest generation, it is intuitive that the best way to learn about an oncology case is to share the perspectives of the medical oncologist, surgical oncologist, radiation oncologist, oncology nurse, oncology-based NP and PA, and oncology pharmacist. Once in practice, the concept may remain intuitive, but it often is not practical—the trainees are not all in the same space, they have other responsibilities besides continuing education, and, let’s face it, some teachers are more effective than others.

The goal of IPCE is to achieve outcome(s) that reflect a change in the skills, strategy, or performance of the healthcare team and/or patient outcomes, to reflect one or more of the interprofessional competencies to include values/ethics, roles/responsibilities, interprofessional communication, and/or teams/teamwork, and to design educational activities that aim to improve skills/strategy or performance of the healthcare teams and/or patient outcomes. The complexity of healthcare practice, the number of stakeholders in each patient’s course, the ever-expanding range of new (and old, repurposed!) therapeutics, and the need to share both knowledge and decision-making authority so that patients (especially those in the hospital) have consistent, evidence-grounded, “wrap-around” care all demand that clinicians even beyond initial training must learn about teamwork and shared clinical responsibilities.

To advance outcomes-driven, team-developed, and learner-focused interprofessional education among a broad range of healthcare professionals, successful CE training is designed, developed, implemented, assessed, and accredited for multiple health professions. This supports the continuing professional development of clinicians so they can learn from, with, and about each other to improve patient outcomes. In other words, it is not enough simply to include multiple professions as learners in an activity; for example, an educational intervention does not qualify as an IPCE activity if it is designed by and for physicians, and then nurses are also invited to attend. See a brief video on IPCE at https://vimeo.com/243710905.

This field is still young and there are many lessons yet to be learned on how to make IPCE more broadly accessible, more collaborative, and, ultimately, more successful. In that regard, this page is a living resource for new and exciting advances, methodologies, and results in interprofessional continuing education. Please feel free to submit entries both to catch us up and to keep us current.

Questions or Comments about IPCE?