What is IPE?

Interprofessional education occurs when students from two or more professions learn about, from, and with each other to enable effective collaboration and improve health outcomes. Once students understand how to work interprofessionally, they are ready to enter the workplace as a member of the collaborative practice team. This is a key step in moving health systems from fragmentation to a position of strength.1


Why is IPE important?

Health systems in the United States are fragmented and may struggle to adequately address the increasingly complex needs of an aging population. In the early 2000s, the Institute of Medicine released a series of reports ringing the alarm about the prevalence of medical errors, patient safety, and the quality of care delivered in the United States ². These reports identified a lack of teamwork, communication, and collaboration among healthcare professionals of different disciplines as a significant source of costly medical errors, and recognized the need to improve interdisciplinary collaboration to advance patient safety. Increasingly, healthcare systems are moving towards team-based models of patient care to reduce costs, improve health through patient-centered care and the reduction of medical errors.

The education of a workforce prepared to meet the demands of this increasingly interprofessional workplace, requires the integration of communication skills, joint accountability for patient care, and skills in shared decision making into the curriculum as well as opportunities to engage in meaningful collaborative clinical experiences before graduation. By integrating IPE into professional health curriculums at GVSU, we are educating a workforce prepared to meet the challenges of interprofessional collaborative practice in the 21st century.

Professor interacting with two IPE students

What does IPE/IPP look like in practice?

IPE is the coeducational practice and training that makes Interprofessional Practice (IPP) possible. IPP is a collaborative practice, occurring when healthcare service providers from different professional backgrounds provide comprehensive patient-centered healthcare services, aimed at addressing the needs of the whole person ³. This approach may require the healthcare team to engage with the patient, their family, caregivers, and even their communities to deliver care that comprehensively meets their patient’s needs across healthcare and community settings.

  1. World Health Organization (WHO). (2010). Framework for action on interprofessional education & collaborative practice. Geneva: World Health Organization.
  2. About IPE. (2017, November 20). Retrieved from https://nexusipe.org/informing/about-ipe.
  3. Interprofessional Education/Interprofessional Practice (IPE/IPP). (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.asha.org/practice/interprofessional-education-practice/.