Experiences Need to Be Repeated Throughout the Educational Continuum
Thibault commented that even the most thoroughly well-planned single encounter will not have a lasting impact. Experiences need to be repeated in order to overcome cultural barriers, and they need to be reinforced, given the huge volume of information that all health professions students must learn and experience to become fully developed professionals. If IPE is offered only as an annual event, then the message is clearly given that it is not core. To be core, he said, it must be seen as something that is repeated regularly throughout education.
IPE Must Accomplish Real Work; It Is Not an End in Itself
When the interprofessional educational activity is aligned with real-life situations and challenges, Thibault said, the IPE experience becomes more tangible and applicable to real work. Such an experience has a more lasting and enduring impact and is more valued by learners. Designers of IPE need to look for those opportunities that can only be done or are best accomplished interprofessionally, he said. If the activity does not require collaboration and it does not provide real-life experiences, Thibault said, it should not be called “interprofessional education.”
New Technologies Can Assist in Accomplishing Goals
Thibault said that technology for IPE is just beginning to unlock the possibilities of how learners are learning and will learn differently. It opens up huge possibilities for interprofessional work, he said, as educators become freed from the confines of the fixed classroom and can think in terms of virtual space for education.
A Major Commitment to Faculty Development Is Required
Finally, Thibault commented that most faculties have not experienced IPE or worked across faculty boundaries. As a result, many educators are uncomfortable with teaching interprofessionally because they do not know what to expect with learners of other professions. The enabling technologies for teaching interprofessionally may be unfamiliar to some educators, he stressed, thus causing the educators greater apprehension about engaging in IPE activities. To overcome these challenges, a major investment in faculty development is necessary, Thibault said. For those institutions that have made the investment, IPE has been an incredible source of renewal in terms of energizing the faculty by teaching them new tools, having them be