Interprofessional education is no longer uncommon in the university setting. Students enrolled in various healthcare professional programs are more likely than ever to share a classroom lecture, simulation experience or an extracurricular journal club discussion to prepare them for the teamwork they’ll be expected to deliver when they hit the workplace. Future nurses, future physicians and future therapists of all types are learning to work together preprofessionally so they can one day work together professionally.
Why should professional development and clinical education for practicing healthcare professionals be any different? It’s a question many nursing professional development (NPD) leaders are posing.
“As reported in the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Nursing Research Network … interest in interprofessional education has grown over the past 20 years,” reports a column in the Journal for Nurses in Professional Development. “Research in interprofessional education has shown increased collaboration in practice between health professionals, especially between nurses and physicians. This collaboration has resulted in improved quality of care and patient outcomes.”
Later in the piece, journal coeditor Kari L. Schmidt, MS, RN-BC, ACC, continues, “Some NPD specialists have not had the opportunity to partner with educators in other disciplines. Now is the time! Resources and research are available to provide direction for interprofessional education.”
To guide NPD specialists and clinical in interprofessional education, Schmidt points to the Core Competencies for Interprofessional Collaborative Practice released by the Interprofessional Education Collaborative Expert Panel in 2011. The competencies are intended for preprofessional educational programs and are based on input from the American Association of Colleges of Nursing, the American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine, the Association of Schools and Programs of Public Health, the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy, the American Dental Education Association, and the American Association of Medical Colleges.
But that doesn’t mean they don’t apply to NPD specialists. In fact, another piece in Journal for Nurses in Professional Development calls for NPD specialists to use these competencies when launching their own interprofessional educational experiences.
“As there is increasing emphasis in the practice arena for NPD specialists to provide interprofessional education for a wide variety of topics, including emergency response management, hands-on clinical procedures, and general teamwork/communication, aligning these educational activities to the interprofessional core competencies will provide a solid foundation to this important education,” write Mary Edel Holtschneider, MPA, BSN, RN-BC, NREMT-P, CPLP, and Chan W. Park, MD, FAAEM.
“It can also help guide how to optimally implement effective interprofessional education in the practice setting with learners of varying degrees of interprofessional knowledge.”
So what do the competencies cover? Here’s a brief overview of the four competency domains, as provided by Holtschneider and Dr. Park:
The 50-plus page report is available free on the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) website. Forward-thinking NPD specialists and clinical educators with an interest in interprofessional education will want to check it out.
“This expert panel report provides an excellent resource on the compelling case for interprofessional education, the competency approach to interprofessional learning, core competencies for collaborative practice, examples of successful interprofessional education learning activities, and challenges to implementing core interprofessional competencies,” writes Schmidt.
“Interprofessional education is an excellent opportunity for NPD specialists to meet the challenges of today's healthcare organizations.”