Popularity of Interprofessional Pharmacy Education Increasing

Interprofessional education (IPE) is becoming more common among pharmacy students and other health care professionals, according to a report from the International Pharmaceutical Federation (FIP).

Interprofessional education (IPE) is becoming more common among pharmacy students and other health care professionals, according to a report from the International Pharmaceutical Federation (FIP).

The World Health Organization defines IPE as education involving 2 or more health or social professionals with a focus on working together to improve patient outcomes.

Students from different fields sitting in the same classroom and learning the same material would not count as IPE, the FIP study authors noted. Instead, IPE must engage in learning with, from, and about each other.

The idea behind IPE first grabbed hold in the 1960s, but it wasn’t until the 1990s when national IPE movements began, the report noted.

Now, IPE can be found around the globe, as evidenced by oncology nurses training in a health-system pharmacy in Uruguay, to medical and pharmacy students completing rotations together in a tuberculosis hospital in Namibia, to the many other examples in the FIP report.

Even some older health care professionals are being retrained to think more collaboratively, the studay authors pointed out. An increase in IPE in developing countries could prevent professional silos from ever developing.

“As the number and complexity of treatments grow, it’s no longer possible for any one health provider—no matter how knowledgeable—to be able provide top quality care working in isolation,” said study author Tina Brock in a press release.

While there isn’t a great deal of research on the effects of IPE, there have been a few studies showing improved health outcomes, greater patient satisfaction with care, better team behavior, and reduced clinical error rates.

“As the amount of extra time in formal pharmacy curricula is saturated, however, a stronger evidence base will be needed in order to justify allocating increased resources to interprofessional instruction,” the authors wrote.

In terms of curricula, the authors suggested updating pharmacology courses to include opportunities for IPE. For example, a discussion involving pharmacy, medicine, nursing, and social work students on the management of pain medications—including their mechanisms, side effects, and costs—could provide insights for all of the students.

Such curricula should include “quality improvement and communication science,” the report authors wrote.

“[P]erhaps by 2025, what is now called IPE will be the standard for all health professions training, and what is now called collaborative practice will be the standard for all patient care,” they conjectured.