From buy-in to integration: melding an interprofessional initiative into academic programs in the health professions
Improvement in the provision of health care is essential in a complex, diverse and changing system. Studies are beginning to indicate that interprofessional (IP) collaboration can be a means to help address this issue. Institutions that have programs in health professions develop Interprofessional Education (IPE) programs as a way to introduce and nurture the knowledge, skills, and attitudes necessary for IP collaboration. It is expected that health professionals with this training will serve patients/clients and communities with safe, effective, timely, efficient, equitable and patient/client-centered care that leads to decreased medical errors, reduced fragmentation of care, and optimal health outcomes. Saint Louis University developed an IPE Program that utilizes a sophisticated integrated curriculum featuring courses that intentionally address teamwork in patient/client-centered care. There were challenges in integrating the IPE curriculum into the University's many diverse programs in the health professions. The purpose of this paper is to present the process by which IPE was integrated into the curricula of 8 different health professional programs. Benefits, opportunities, challenges and strategies of this process are presented and discussed. It is expected that this change in culture will produce improved patient/client outcomes.