Nursing

Interprofessional Competencies Make the Difference in Health Care

Nurse Leader Insider, July 6, 2017

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By Christy Davidson, DNP, RNC-OB

Christy Davidson, DNP, RNC-OB

The idea of interprofessional competencies has been transformed from a buzzword to a fundamental approach to the way that providers interact with patients, families, communities, and other healthcare professionals. To succeed, a team-based approach is a priority.

In 2010, the World Health Organization defined interprofessional education as occurring “when students from two or more professions learn about, from, and with each other to enable effective collaboration and improve health outcomes.”1 In the years since, the idea of interprofessional competencies, has been transformed from a buzzword in the health care industry to a fundamental approach to the way that providers interact with patients, families, communities, and other health care professionals.

What are interprofessional competencies?
Health care often requires professionals from different fields to coordinate and collaborate effectively. Interprofessional competencies are the skills and knowledge needed to develop and maintain positive professional working relationships with providers, patients, families, and communities to enable optimal health outcomes. As the industry moves from fee-for-service to value-based payment options, these working relationships are likely to expand across a broader base of health care provider systems and dive deeper to work more closely with the families and communities of the consumer.

The Affordable Care Act highlights the need for interprofessional competencies
To succeed in today’s systems of health care, a team-based approach is a priority. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) has incentivized health care providers to focus on costs savings, quality measures, service, and efficiency by tying reimbursement to these outcomes.2

Medicare, Medicaid, and third-party payers are pushing health care providers to develop teams designed to improve outcomes by:

  •     Coordinating care and education for patients.
  •     Encouraging self-care in patients.
  •     Supporting comprehensive management of chronic conditions.
  •     Treating health concerns sooner rather than later.3

Research suggests that collaboration improves coordination outcomes. An effective way to learn to collaborate is to start early, while students are just beginning their careers. We know that providers who have interprofessional experience as students are more successful at working together throughout their careers.

Overcoming barriers to interprofessional education
Unfortunately, we face some significant hurdles when it comes to incorporating interprofessional experiences for students in health science programs. Lack of faculty experienced in process, scheduling conflicts, and the challenges of adding to already full curricula for these students. But, we must find ways to overcome these barriers because without interprofessional education we are unlikely to achieve the patient, systems, and population outcomes that are so urgently needed.

As an academic institution focused on achieving the highest standards, Capella University is continually innovating and enhancing our programs to ensure they are aligned to the ever-changing needs of the health care industry. We gather feedback from our employer partners and advisory board to understand the interprofessional competencies that are essential in today’s systems of health.

Capella’s DNP, DHA, DrPH programs include courses that allow students from different departments and health care focus areas to learn to relate to each other in authentic and productive ways. This enables learners to better contribute in their field, because when they leave Capella they’ve been taught the skills to help them be able to effectively coordinate and collaborate with other professionals in the health care setting.

We are also proud to support our partners in health care not only by providing programs that implement an interprofessional approach to learning and practice, but aim to meet organizational needs by culminating in an evidence-based, practice improvement capstone project. In addition to interprofessional practice, the capstone project is supported by other key tenets of our doctoral curriculum:  executive leadership, and organizational change, all of which seek to promote patient safety and improved quality of health care. Defining characteristics of the capstone experience are that all learners partner with organizations to identify problems, collaborate with key leaders and stakeholders, function as change agents, operationalize interventions supported by contemporary evidence, evaluate the process, and disseminate findings back to the organization. These partnerships allow us to deliver affordable, high-quality education that includes the interprofessional competencies essential in today’s health care environment.

Visit Capella’s website to find out more about Capella’s Strategic Learning Partnerships with healthcare organizations.

Important information about the educational debt, earnings, and completion rates of students who attended this program: www.capella.edu/outcomes

[1] World Health Organization. Framework for Action on Interprofessional Education and Collaborative Practice. 2010. http://apps.who.int/iris/bitstream/10665/70185/1/WHO_HRH_HPN_10.3_eng.pdf. Page 10. 

[2] The Importance of Interprofessional Practice and Education in the Era of Accountable Care. North Carolina Medical Journal. 2016 by the North Carolina Institute of Medicine and The Duke Endowment. http://www.ncmedicaljournal.com/content/77/2/128.full

[3] The Importance of Interprofessional Practice and Education in the Era of Accountable Care. North Carolina Medical Journal. 2016 by the North Carolina Institute of Medicine and The Duke Endowment. http://www.ncmedicaljournal.com/content/77/2/128.full
 



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