Transformative Health Professional Education and IPE

In his reflective comments on the workshop, Forum and planning committee member Jan De Maesaneer from Ghent University in Belgium commented that social accountability will lead to transformative health professional education and changes resulting in greater equity. At one point during the workshop, De Maesaneer was asked to define “transformative health professional education.” Although it is not easy, De Maesaneer said, he did attempt to come up a definition, and the result was as follows:

Transformative health professional education is a process. It occurs when institutions for health professional education respond to the needs of the population through a series of socially accountable change actions aimed at three levels—the micro, the meso, and the macro. The micro level focuses on educational transformations to help prepare health care providers to practice more person- and people-centered care, combining appropriate knowledge and skills training in a process of self-directed caring, to what is reflective practice. The meso level involves interactions with health services, providers, and citizens in the community, including the establishment of community-based training complexes that emphasize those areas most in need—like deprived rural and urban environments. At the macro level, there would be active participation in processes of health policy development with special attention to human resources spending and contributions that make health systems worldwide increasingly based on relevance, equity, quality, cost effectiveness, system ability, person- and people-centeredness, and innovation.

De Maeseneer’s definition of transformative health professional education had clear links to Paul Worley’s closing comments. In those comments Worley said he thought that the workshop had provided an excellent reflection on interprofessional education and that participants had discovered not only that cultures can change and practical bottlenecks should be overcome, but that interprofessional education is needed and that it is possible to make it happen now. He said that he had also learned that for this to be accomplished, there will need to be a transformative process that involves patients and populations, the educational system, and the health system; excellent examples exist that were described in this workshop for all to learn from.

To find out more about the workshops discussed in this report, please visit the Global Forum on Innovation in Health Professional Education website at

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