What is Interprofessional practice?

Continuing and Professional Development Blog 

January 2018

There is nothing like sitting at the foot of a family member’s hospital bed and watching everyone and everything that happens around your family member to bring into sharp focus the complexity of our healthcare system and the reality of a multi-professional healthcare workforce:  physicians, nursing staff, IV nurses, nursing assistants, nurse practitioners, case managers, physical therapists, occupational therapists, dieticians:  and that’s in the span of five days. 

Through the eyes of a health professions educator, multi-professional does not equate with interprofessional.

As we launch this semester of IMPACT Practice and celebrate the team-based learning that carries IHP and HMS students into the spring, the anxious experience of ‘living’ our healthcare system is a window into the continuing work to optimize our patients’ health and their safety and security when they are ill.

It is not sufficient to teach our students about each other, or the importance of talking to each other.  Interprofessional practice is the process of collaboratively and cooperatively weaving a network of safety and communication that supports the physical, emotional, and intellectual needs of our patients, clients, and their families.

We constantly face the challenge of weaving and reweaving support that demands our ability to dynamically assess and respond to changing patient needs, and to support each other as we do that; and we do it for each individual person who relies on our ability to do so, over and over.

Let’s remember to be mindful of the intended ‘end goal’ of interprofessional learning opportunities, whether in the formal student curriculum or the post-professional clinicians’ development world.  No matter how we look at each other or rearrange the way we look at each other, multi-professional will never by interprofessional.