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Interprofessional education: shared learning for collaborative, high-quality care

02 February 2019
Volume 27 · Issue 2


‘Working together for patients' is a core NHS value that aims to provide high quality care and a well-trained, cohesive workforce. Landmark reports have highlighted how poor interprofessional communication and teamwork can have devastating implications for standards of care and service user outcomes.

By embedding interprofessional education (IPE) into the undergraduate curriculum, health and social care students are supported to develop the required knowledge, skills and attitudes to make a positive contribution to the interprofessional team, both as students and as qualified practitioners.

This article will give an overview of the drivers for IPE in the UK and look at the challenges of developing an authentic IPE ‘collaborative curriculum’ using the University of Northampton as a case study.

Working together for patients is a core NHS value (Department of Health, 2015), and the public expects to receive high quality care from a well-trained, cohesive workforce. Landmark reports (Laming, 2003; Francis, 2013; Kirkup, 2015) have highlighted how poor interprofessional communication and teamwork can have devastating implications for standards of care and outcomes for service users.

The Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) and the Health and Care Professionals' Council (HCPC) aim to protect the public by regulating the practice of health and social care professionals in the UK. They set standards, approve programmes of study and take action when standards are not being met, thereby ensuring that registrants deliver—and service users receive—the highest standards of care. Educational institutions must provide student midwives with a variety of learning and teaching opportunities to enable them to achieve the NMC standards for pre-registration midwifery education (NMC, 2009). The standards are divided into four domains: effective midwifery practice, professional and ethical practice, developing the individual midwife and others, and achieving quality care through evaluation and research. Essential skills clusters for pre-registration midwifery education require midwives to demonstrate collaborative working with other health professionals and external agencies, and confidence in their own role in a multidisciplinary or multiagency team (NMC, 2009). There are, therefore, clear and explicit professional requirements for interprofessional education (IPE) to be included in the pre-registration midwifery curriculum.

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