Interprofessional education is key in preparing the primary care workforce force for the future. George Thibault, the President of the Josiah Macy Jr. Foundation, which supports projects that work to broaden and improve interprofessional education (IPE), recently spoke on the importance of interprofessional education as part of the Center’s Perspectives in Primary Care seminar series.
Dr. Thibault began the lecture discussing failed attempts to increase primary care in the US, and why there has been minimal success. He noted the Affordable Care as an impetus for increased access to primary care and highlighted current circumstances favoring its continued expansion, including the need to contain healthcare costs, purchaser pressures, new care and payment models, and an interprofessional approach to both education and care.
He also reviewed important areas of interprofessional education activity (IPE), including shared clinical experiences and joint curriculum planning between nursing and medical schools. Medical Center-wide planning involving multiple health professional schools can also bolster the effectiveness of integrated learning and practice. Several take-aways emerged from early IPE activity, like the need for interprofessional leadership and a strong commitment to faculty development and individual professional preparation. New technologies also play a critical role in the success of IPE.
Dr. Thibault emphasized the urgency of preparing an expanded primary care workforce for the future. IPE can lead to more integrated practices, which would produce an interprofessional workforce with team-based skills. With several factors today in congruence with the goal of optimal primary care, now is the time to make a culture change that will foster collaboration, equality, community, and patient-centered practices.