Interprofessionality as the field of interprofessional practice and interprofessional education: an emerging concept
This paper proposes a new concept and a frame of reference that should permit the development of a better understanding of a phenomenon that is the development of a cohesive and integrated health care practice among professionals in response to clients' needs. The concept is named "interprofessionality" and aims to draw a clear distinction with another concept, that of interdisciplinarity. The utilization of the concept of interdisciplinarity, which originally concerns the development of integrated knowledge in response to fragmented disciplinary knowledge, has caused some confusion. We need a concept that will specifically concern the development of a cohesive practice among different professionals from the same organization or from different organizations and the factors influencing it. There is no concept that focuses clearly on this field. Interprofessionality concerns the processes and determinants that influence interprofessional education initiatives as well as determinants and processes inherent to interprofessional collaboration. Interprofessionality also involves analysis of the linkages between these two spheres of activity. An attempt to bridge the gap between interprofessional education and interprofessional practice is long overdue; the two fields of inquiry need a common basis for analysis. To this end, we propose a frame of reference, an interprofessional education for collaborative patient-centred practice framework. The framework establishes linkages between the determinants and processes of collaboration at several levels, including links among learners, teachers and professionals (micro level), links at the organizational level between teaching and health organizations (meso level) and links among systems such as political, socio-economic and cultural systems (macro level). Research must play a key role in the development of interprofessionality in order to document these linkages and the results of initiatives as they are proposed and implemented. We also believe that interprofessionality will not be pursued without the requisite political will.