Interprofessional education: Growing focus on preparing students for team-based care

New pharmacy education accrediting standards call for IPE

Through its newly established educational gaming company, Professions Quest, the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy (AACP) spent the last year working on creating a video game, which will officially launch in 2015, intended to bring all health professions together to enhance learning through virtual medical mission quests.

“The students will be judged on whether they seek information from the right professions at the right time to make better patient care decisions,” Lucinda Maine, BSPharm, PhD, Executive Vice President and CEO of AACP, told Pharmacy Today.

The game is just one example that highlights the growing focus on interprofessional education (IPE) in pharmacy education. Through IPE, pharmacy schools are teaching students how to work with other medical professionals, such as physicians and nurses, to prepare the student pharmacists for team-based care—whether in a hospital, integrated health system, or community practice setting. And for the first time, accreditors from almost all health professions, including pharmacy, are requiring IPE in their curriculum.

Final 2016 standards from the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education (ACPE) will be published early next year and are expected to lay out significant changes. The standards state that pharmacy curricula must prepare all students with the skills to provide entry-level, patient-centered care in a variety of practice settings as contributing members of interprofessional teams.

“The fact that now accreditors are requiring it is a big change,” Pete Vlasses, Executive Director of ACPE, told Today.

Vlasses said it’s the first time almost all of medicine includes IPE competency expectations in standards.

“So now instead of accreditors being blind to this like they were in the past, the stars are lining up so that professionals all agree that we need to do this and we need to work together,” said Vlasses.

IPE through the years

IPE is not a new concept. The Institute of Medicine (IOM) first encouraged IPE in medical education in a 1972 report. Then, in 2003, IOM listed pharmacy as one of the few professions that had used the term IPE in official documents.

Indeed, the term “interprofessional” was encouraged as part of 10 of the 30 ACPE standards for 2000 and 2007. But a key difference in the language in the 2016 standards is that IPE is a “must” rather than a “should,” according to Vlasses.

Maine said AACP decided to advance IPE back in 2009 with the creation of the Interprofessional Education Collaborative (IPEC).

“Our first contribution to IPEC was to publish a core competency that had four domains and a number of sub-objectives,” she said.

Core competencies can include things like team work, communication, and ethics and can be applied in any number of different care scenarios.

The University of Washington (UW) has been promoting IPE since 1997. Their program brings together students from UW’s six science schools: pharmacy, medicine, nursing, dental, public health, and social work.

“The accrediting bodies have absorbed IPEC’s competencies, and they expect that when we are teaching IPE, those are the things we are teaching,” said Jennifer Danielson, PharmD, MBA, CDE, Assistant Professor and Director of Experiential Education, Introductory Practice, at UW School of Pharmacy.

She said now that new ACPE standards have been drafted, the pressure is on to put them in place the next couple of years.

“What we need to do now, and what the standards direct us to do, is to have a very coordinated logical progression of skills and activities from the first year through the fourth year,” she said.

Finding the time and place

According to Danielson, every school will probably say its first challenge with IPE is finding the time and place to get students from different schools together.

Once you find places and time, what do you do with the students? Often the next challenge is getting faculty to come together to design—and ultimately agree on—a lesson plan. Getting enough faculty trained is another challenge.

Maine said she thinks AACP’s video game, called Mimycx, will help to solve many of these barriers.

The video game could be incorporated into one or more classes or made available as an extracurricular activity. And since the game is mostly self-taught, it’s not quite as dependent upon having the right cadre of faculty.

“IPE is ripe for a video game because it will make it easier to integrate IPE across the health professions,” she said.