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Competencies and Frameworks in Interprofessional Education: A Comparative Analysis

Thistlethwaite, Jill E. MBBS, MMEd, PhD; Forman, Dawn PhD; Matthews, Lynda R. PhD; Rogers, Gary D. MBBS, PhD; Steketee, Carole PhD; Yassine, Tagrid MA

doi: 10.1097/ACM.0000000000000249

Health professionals need preparation and support to work in collaborative practice teams, a requirement brought about by an aging population and increases in chronic and complex diseases. Therefore, health professions education has seen the introduction of interprofessional education (IPE) competency frameworks to provide a common lens through which disciplines can understand, describe, and implement team-based practices. Whilst an admirable aim, often this has resulted in more confusion with the introduction of varying definitions about similar constructs, particularly in relation to what IPE actually means.

The authors explore the nature of the terms competency and framework, while critically appraising the concept of competency frameworks and competency-based education. They distinguish between competencies for health professions that are profession specific, those that are generic, and those that may be achieved only through IPE. Four IPE frameworks are compared to consider their similarities and differences, which ultimately influence how IPE is implemented. They are the Interprofessional Capability Framework (United Kingdom), the National Interprofessional Competency Framework (Canada), the Core Competencies for Interprofessional Collaborative Practice (United States), and the Curtin University Interprofessional Capability Framework (Australia).

The authors highlight the need for further discussion about establishing a common language, strengthening ways in which academic environments work with practice environments, and improving the assessment of interprofessional competencies and teamwork, including the development of assessment tools for collaborative practice. They also argue that for IPE frameworks to be genuinely useful, they need to augment existing curricula by emphasizing outcomes that might be attained only through interprofessional activity.

Dr. Thistlethwaite is adjunct professor and consultant in interprofessional education, University of Technology, Sydney, Ultimo, Sydney, Australia.

Dr. Forman is director of interactive leadership and management development and adjunct professor, Curtin University, Perth, Australia.

Dr. Matthews is associate professor, Ageing, Work and Health Research Unit, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Sydney, Sydney, Australia.

Dr. Rogers is professor of medical education, deputy head (learning and teaching) of the School of Medicine, and program lead in interprofessional learning, Health Institute for the Development of Education and Scholarship, Griffith University, Gold Coast, Australia.

Dr. Steketee is dean for teaching and learning, School of Medicine Fremantle, University of Notre Dame Australia, Fremantle, Australia.

Ms. Yassine is manager, Office of Learning and Teaching’s Project, Curriculum Renewal for Interprofessional Education in Health, Centre for Research in Learning and Change, University of Technology, Sydney, Ultimo, Sydney, Australia.

Funding/Support: The authors are members of the Curriculum Renewal for Interprofessional Health Education in Health Consortium, funded by the Office of Learning and Teaching, previously the Australian Learning and Teaching Council, a body of the Australian Government. This article is one output of that consortium’s work.

Other disclosures: None reported.

Ethical approval: Not applicable to this article. The project of which it forms a part was approved by the ethics committees of the participating institutions.

Correspondence should be addressed to Dr. Thistlethwaite, University of Technology Sydney, Ultimo, Sydney, NSW 2007, Australia; telephone: (0061) 418629072; e-mail:

© 2014 by the Association of American Medical Colleges