Blog: Critical Success Factors Include Patient

Blog: Critical Success Factors Include Patient


Christine Arenson, MD, Director, National Center for Interprofessional Practice and Education


Since its founding in 2012, the National Center for Interprofessional Practice and Education has worked with over 100 academic-practice and academic-community partnerships at over 70 institutions. From these many engagements of bringing practice and education together simultaneously for improved outcomes (the Nexus), the National Center has distilled five critical success factors that are essential to achieving learning and health outcomes:

  • Support of senior leaders in "setting tone"
  • Engage IPE champions "on the ground"
  • Create a compelling vision for IPE
  • Foster a culture of health, not health care
  • Resource and showcase of IPE

These critical success factors arose organically from studying successful Nexus partnerships. At the same time, it became increasingly clear that when these Nexus partnerships were designed first around the people served (individuals, families, communities, and populations) and then adding students and professionals, the chances of positive impact and achieving outcomes increases exponentially.  The National Center calls this foundational design principle our North Star, which is deeply embedded in our work.

Recognizing the importance of starting with the needs of the people served, the National Center has worked with patient advisors and community representatives to build a deeper understanding of how best to engage people with these practice-education partnerships. The 2023 Nexus Summit represented a breakthrough moment in this work, as 13  Patient Responders engaged throughout the convening, providing real time feedback that was synthesized in the Patient Plenary they designed and delivered on the fourth day of the Summit. 

The response from the interprofessional practice and education community to this Patient Plenary was remarkable. For many attendees, including National Center leaders, this session was a true “wake up call” highlighting the need to engage in new ways with the people served in order to deepen Nexus partnerships to achieve meaningful health and learning outcomes. At the same time, some health professionals shared that they understand the patient frustrations and the remarkable resilience it takes to navigate the US healthcare system to achieve health - because those health professionals feel constrained by the same system. The National Center team is heeding this wake up call by working with our patient advisors to create new opportunities for shared learning between academicians, practitioners, and the people we serve. Together, we will seek answers to an uncomfortable question, “What are the next steps to partner with the people served to address systemic barriers to optimizing health and learning outcomes?”  

NexusIPETM Critical Success Factors.
© 2023 National Center for Interprofessional Practice and Education. All rights reserved.

As a starting point, the National Center has reframed our Five (now Six) Critical Success Factors, to include “People Served” as the central focus of continuous evaluation and improvement of our shared work. Patients have always been central to our approach and our tools, and the Patient North Star always has been and remains at the pinnacle of the Nexus IPE™ Learning Model. Going forward, patients, families and caregivers have been added as central to the Six Critical Success Factors to create even more emphasis on the need for Nexus teams to continuously attend to the engagement of people served to ensure initial success and long-term vitality and sustainability of their work.