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Benefits of Interprofessional Education: Short- and Long-Term

Four medical personnel looking down putting anesthetic mask on patient from the view of the patient
“Interprofessional collaboration relies on members of different professions working together toward the goal of improving patient outcomes,” said Mary Meyer, RN, MN, Ph.D., APRN, a clinical associate professor and director of the clinical learning laboratory at the University of Kansas Medical Center in Kansas City, Kan. Meyer is also on the Advisory Board for the University of Kansas Center for Interprofessional Education and Simulation.

“Interprofessional collaboration relies on members of different professions working together toward the goal of improving patient outcomes,” said Mary Meyer, RN, MN, Ph.D., APRN, a clinical associate professor and director of the clinical learning laboratory at the University of Kansas Medical Center in Kansas City, Kan. Meyer is also on the Advisory Board for the University of Kansas Center for Interprofessional Education and Simulation.

The University of Kansas Center for Interprofessional Education (IPE) promotes collaboration between different health professions to help prepare nursing students for their future careers in healthcare teams. According to Meyer, the goals of the program are to improve the quality of collaboration and communication among clinical teams by providing opportunities to practice using case studies, role-play and other interactive strategies. In addition, each student in the School of Nursing experiences at least one interprofessional simulation during each semester of the program.

IPE programs such as the one at the University of Kansas allow future nurses, doctors and health professionals to practice working together to help increase collaboration in their future work environments. Meyer indicated that students describe many benefits from participating in the IPE programs including, (1) heightened awareness of the importance of skilled communication; (2) appreciation for the constraints to interprofessional teamwork; (3) learning how other members of the healthcare team work; and (4) experiencing how care is delivered at the level of the hospital unit and/or the clinic. Students also claim improved knowledge of illnesses and treatments as a result of the simulations and immersive experiences.

Meyer herself believes in the importance of interprofessional collaboration and enjoys teaching teamwork to her students. Experience in cardiovascular surgery teams has given her the opportunity to see the power of collaboration in providing the best patient care possible.

“During my tenure with the cardiovascular surgery team, we were proud to have the lowest morbidity/mortality statistics in our state,” said Meyer. “It is true that patient outcomes are multifactorial, but in terms of patient safety and quality, nearly all errors can be traced back to at least one lapse in communication or teamwork. I believe much of our success was related to the true teamwork and collaboration that occurred.”

Interprofessional collaboration is a reoccurring theme in many nursing education programs around the country. In fact, the American Association of Colleges of Nursing worked with several other professional organizations, such as the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy and the Association of American Medical Colleges, to publish a report in 2011 on “Core Competencies for Interprofessional Collaborative Practice." The report defined programmatic competencies that should be taught to all healthcare professionals. Educating students to prioritize interprofessional collaboration is top of mind for many nurse educators as it translates directly to improved patient care.

“Collaborative interprofessional partnerships are characterized by cooperation, mutual respect and shared decision-making,” said Meyer. “When healthcare is provided by collaborative teams, nurses are empowered to practice to the full extent of their education and training. Practicing without barriers to the scope of practice is not only empowering for nurses, it also improves healthcare for patients, particularly in terms of patient's access to healthcare.”  

For more information about the University of Kansas Center for Interprofessional Education and Simulation, Meyers suggested visiting the resources page at www.kumc.edu.

To find out more about interprofessional collaboration, visit the World Health Organization and the Institute of Medicine resources about the impact of interprofessional education and collaboration on patient outcomes.

Additionally, check out the Collaborating Across Borders V (CAB V) Conference happening September 29 – October 2, 2015, in Roanoke, Va. The conference is the fifth joint conference that links the United States and Canada around key themes of interprofessional education and practice. For more details and to register, visit www.cabvroanoke.org.

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