Healthcare professionals don’t work in silos, so why should they learn in them? Interprofessional continuing education (CE) gets healthcare workers from all sorts of disciplines together in the same room where they can learn — together.
The approach is gaining momentum in the healthcare field. This past June marked the third consecutive year advocates and experts from hospitals, health systems, medical schools, specialty societies, education companies and government agencies gathered to talk about and share experiences with interprofessional CE at the Joint Accreditation Leadership Summit.
A free report from the 2016 summit, “By the Team for the Team: Evolving Interprofessional Continuing Education for Optimal Patient Care,” details best practices, case examples, recommendations and common challenges of interprofessional CE discussed at the event. Accompanying the report is a series of videos that features educators sharing goals, accomplishments and advice on interprofessional CE.
Here’s a look at what interprofessional CE is, what it offers and how to get it going in your organization.
Interprofessional CE builds team collaboration across professions, and we’re not just talking about nursing and medicine. Experts at the 2016 summit emphasized the importance of keeping an open mind about the range of professionals included in interprofessional CE, which in addition to clinicians could include administrators, attorneys, c-suite administrators, chaplains, health educators, patient safety experts, and support services workers.
“When planning an educational intervention, it’s important to think about all the professionals who impact the gap the activity is designed to address,” the report explains. “One of the benefits of bringing in more professions is that new needs are identified.”
Interprofessional CE can cover public health priorities including sepsis, obesity, end-of-life care, heart disease and cancer. What’s more, it can address cross-professional issues such as cultural competency, compassionate care and communication skills.
For an added dimension, it can bring in patients as planners, teachers and learners.
“My experience with cross-professional issues is there are often blind spots in our community,” said endocrinologist Graham McMahon, MD, MMSc, president and CEO, Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education, in the report.
“Most of our community are able to focus on endocrine diseases, but very few of them seem to be able to focus on communications or self-reflection or values. This is a real opportunity for CE professionals to say, we can take care of your specialty area of interest, but we also can address the cross-cutting blind spots such as cultural care, compassionate values. The opportunity is not just to address the blind spot but to bring the team together and share the values around those issues.”
Evidence linking interprofessional CE with improved knowledge, attitudes, competence and performance among healthcare workers is growing, according to the report. Evidence also suggests patient and system outcomes benefit from interprofessional CE, too.
Studies have documented behavioral changes among healthcare providers, organizational improvements in service delivery, and improvements in team performance outcomes as well as patient clinical outcomes.
“I really enjoy the fact that we can not only educate the physicians and the nurses and the physician assistants and genetic counselors and pharmacists, but the more informed the clinicians are, the more informed the patients are, and the more informed the patients are, the better outcomes they're going to have overall, because they can be an advocate for themselves,” said a provider of interprofessional CE in the report.
The report provides eight key recommendations for creating and sustaining successful interprofessional CE in your organization:
What’s your experience with interprofessional CE? Is it an effective way to boost interprofessional collaboration? Share your advice and real-world reflections below.
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