Answering the vexing questions about organizing IPE in higher education
The road to interprofessional education (IPE) and interprofessional collaborative practice (IPCP) in North America is described as a “long and winding” one. Most in our field are unaware of how long our history truly is, and why commitment to teams, IPE, and IPCP comes and goes over time, creating short institutional memories. Valuing health care teamwork dates to the 1910s followed by a significant surge of interest after World War II. Yet, serious conversations about how to educate students to be “collaboration-ready” during their pre-professional years or how the workforce should be re-configured and trained in practice did not receive attention until the 1960s and 1970s. What stimulated interest in educating health care teams was policymakers’ concerns about physician workforce shortages in both the United States (U.S.) and Canada; driven by Medicare and Medicaid legislation in the former; and the latter, universal health care. In the 1970s, the U.S. Office of Interdisciplinary Training invested millions of dollars to train health care teams in universities, new medical schools, and academic health centers. When these investments abruptly stopped in the 1980s, so did most interprofessional education programs--no matter how innovative, effective, or demonstrated value to students, patients, families and communities. Enthusiasm for the work was necessary but not sufficient, and the hill was too steep to climb. As a result, over the years, independent, passionate champions as volunteers who often taught evenings and weekends carried on the IPE tradition.
The full article can be read in the Journal of Interprofessional Education & Practice.
To read the publication discussing the results of the national survey on organizational structure and resources of IPE programs in the United States, please visit its page on the Resource Center.