What is Interprofessional Education?

What is Interprofessional Education?

"Interprofessional education occurs when students from two or more professions learn about, from and with each other to enable effective collaboration and improve health outcomes"
- World Health Organization, 2010

Why do we need Interprofessional Education?

Teamwork in health care is often referred to as Interprofessional Practice. Interprofessional practice results in the collaborative, comprehensive care that our clients/patients value and expect.

The goal of interprofessional education is to prepare health professional students with the knowledge, skills and attitudes necessary for collaborative interprofessional practice.

An educational continuum

Think of the following types of education as a continuum. Movement along the continuum is characterized by increasingly complex knowledge and appreciation of professions other than one's own. 1

  • Uniprofessional education: Students are all from the same discipline or profession. The mastery of a specific body of knowledge, types of skills and modes of conduct are emphasized.
  • Multiprofessional education: Various disciplines are brought together to understand a particular problem or experience. They afford different perspectives on the issue at hand. For example, aging may be conceptualized as a physical or biological process, a psychological process or a set of characteristics.
  • Interprofessional education (IPE): Students from various professions learn together as a team. Their collaborative interaction is characterized by the integration and modification of different professions' contributions in light of input from other professions.

The hallmark of IPE is the type of cognitive and behavioural change that occurs: participants understand the core principles and concepts of each contributing discipline and are familiar with the basic language and mindsets of the various disciplines. Prior to participating in IPE, students must have basic knowledge and skills related to their own profession.


1 These definitions are based on Clark, P.G. (1993), Journal of Interprofessional Care, 7(3), p. 219-220.