Organizational Models of Interprofessional Practice and Education in the United States: Results from a National Survey

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Submitted by National Center... on Sep 28, 2020 - 4:30pm CDT

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Despite increased activity in the interprofessional practice and education (IPE) space in recent years, we know very little about the organization of systems that support this work in the United States (U.S.). To increase understanding of IPE organizational models, the American Interprofessional Health Collaborative (AIHC) and the National Center for Interprofessional Practice and Education (National Center) charged the IPE Organizational Models task force to design and administer a survey that explores the current status of how IPE is organized in the United States.  The National Center for Interprofessional Practice and Education provides the leadership, evidence and resources needed to guide the nation on the use of interprofessional education and collaborative practice.  The American Interprofessional Health Collaborative is the professional community of the National Center committed to promoting scholarship of IPE. Members of the task force were appointed by the executive leadership team based on their expertise and experience.


Brief Methods

A survey was developed and sent to the 131 self-identified leaders of the IPE Initiatives list-serve on the National Center website between November-December 2019.  The following report includes a summary of the demographic characteristics, methodology, and quantitative/qualitative results. Quantitative results include responses of the 37-item survey:

    • Demographics
    • IPE structure
    • Financing
    • Leadership
    • Personnel
    • Learners
    • Physical infrastructure
    • Institutional culture
    • Systematic IPE plans

Qualitative analysis of the open-ended comments centered around 6 emergent themes:

    • Infrastructure
    • Institutional alignment
    • Dedicated resources
    • Instructional space
    • Implementation
    • Nexus IPE characteristics


Key Findings

Overall survey responses were collected from 80 institutions (61% response rate) designated as having an IPE center/program/initiative on the National Center website.  The following characteristics were identified by the majority (defined as 50% or more response on the survey):

  • Centralized administrative structure
  • Formal leader of IPE with a director title
  • Dedicated budget
  • Multi-institution collaboration/network/consortium
  • Between 76-100% participation of health professions students
  • Systematic IPE plan
  • Internal faculty development programs offered
  • Not referenced in promotion and tenure guidelines
  • Referenced in individual college mission, vision, and/or strategic plans
  • Senior leaders viewed as having a moderate understanding of IPE

Major themes from the qualitative analysis of the open-ended comments noted a marked heterogeneity and variability among universities in infrastructure, dedicated resources, physical instructional space for IPE, and the presence and implementation of IPE curricula.  The predominant setting wherein students participate in an interprofessional clinical learning environment is outpatient primary care.



More IPE programs in the U.S. are becoming organized and operationalized than were reported previously in the literature.  Overall, there is little consistency between institutions’ IPE programs.  Additionally, a gap exists between stated institutional missions/strategic plans and the presence and extent of dedicated/centralized operational resources for IPE.  One limitation to generalizability of these data include the relatively small sample size. This report generates additional questions that must be answered about context to fully understand the findings. These will be addressed in a future manuscript.  



Scott Bennie, PT, DSc, MBA
Amy Blue, PhD
Barbara Brandt, PhD
Anthony Breitbach, PhD, ATC
Patty Carney, PhD
Timothy Farrell, MD, AGSF
Annette Greer, PhD
Heather Hageman, MBA
Kristy Johnston, MSW
Mary Mauldin, EdD
Susan Meyer, PhD
Devin Nickol, MD
Patricia Ohtake, PT, PhD
Andrea Pfeifle, EdD, PT
Sarah Shrader, PharmD
Teri Stumbo, PhD, PT
Elena Umland, PharmD
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