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Science in Action

No More Business as Usual in Health Education and Practice

The days of a patient receiving care from a single doctor at a single location have long passed. Healthcare and health information come from numerous sources, facilities, and providers. To maximize the strengths of multiple providers, improve care, and lower costs, healthcare leaders met at the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing on April 17 to consider steps toward interprofessional education and practice among teams of nurses, doctors, and other health providers. 
The symposium, Partners in Education and Practice: Stronger Teams, Better Health, built on calls for interprofessionalism in healthcare in two major commission reports, The Future of Nursing: Leading Change, Advancing Health, from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Institute of Medicine, and The Lancet Commission report on interdependent health professional education for the 21st century.

These reports have brought renewed attention to interprofessional education and practice, with the “ultimate goal to optimize patient outcomes, said keynote speaker Dr. Jordan J. Cohen, president emeritus of the Association of American Medical Colleges.  “While interprofessional education is not a substitute for traditional, in-depth, discipline-specific education,” said Dr. Cohen, “there is brewing enthusiasm for interprofessional education as a gateway to team care. . . . We need to learn to convert our learning venues from crucibles of individualism to cradles of interprofessionalism.”
Outlining the challenges to successful interprofessional healthcare teams, Dr. Steven A. Wartman, president and CEO of the Association of Academic Health Centers, noted the “guild mentality” among health professionals, inflexible university structures, limitations in regulation and accreditation, and “misaligned” profit-driven incentives in the U.S. healthcare system.
“We cannot have business as usual anymore,” said Penn Nursing Dean Afaf I. Meleis. “We need leadership from the top to make interprofessionalism a reality.”
Next steps will come from the Institute of Medicine’s Global Forum on Innovation in Health Professional Education, led by Dr. Meleis and Dr. Cohen to cultivate ideas and strategies from already successful multi-disciplinary partnerships.
Sponsoring the symposium were the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing and Perelman School of Medicine, the Association of Academic Health Centers, the Institute of Medicine, and The Lancet.