According to the World Health Organization (WHO), interprofessional education (IPE) “occurs when students from two or more professions learn about, from, and with each other to enable effective collaboration and improve health outcomes.”
Using IPE in simulation is especially important, and more organizations are seeking to incorporate IPE simulations in their curriculum. Such integration is supported by accrediting institutions, such as the Interprofessional Education Collaborative (IPEC). The National League for Nursing (NLN) states IPE is
“foundational to achieving safe, high quality, accessible, patient-centered care. Simulation, an effective vehicle to enhance interprofessional education, can help educate students from all health professions, across the educational spectrum, to work collaboratively.”
Benefits of IPE
IPE is shown to enable teamwork and collaborative practice. Enabling teamwork goes on to:
- Optimize health services
- Strengthen health systems
- Improve health outcomes
Patients report higher levels of satisfaction, better acceptance of care, and improved health outcomes when they are treated by a collaborative team of healthcare professionals.
Students report many benefits from IPE programs. They understand the need for skilled communication, and develop an appreciation for the obstacles to interprofessional collaboration. IPE provides the opportunity to learn how other healthcare professionals work and experience how care is delivered in clinical and hospital settings. IPE simulations give students better knowledge of illnesses and treatments because of the immersive nature of simulation.
Challenges to Simulation-Enhanced IPE
Many barriers exist to the universal adoption of IPE, including simple logistics and scheduling difficulties at institutions of higher education. Among the difficulties of integrating IPE are:
- Lack of research, support, and educational programs in IPE
- Lack of coordination between competency and certification requirements
- Resource limitations, including faculty and financial resources
- Administrative barriers and faculty resistance
Overcoming these barriers is a worthwhile endeavor for all types of healthcare education programs, from nursing and EMS to pharmacy. Interprofessional practice (IPP) enhances cooperation, respect between the professions, and shared decision-making. IPE programs allow students in medicine, nursing, EMS, and pharmacy to practice working together to increase teamwork in their future work environments.