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Reflections From the Intersection of Health Professions Education and Clinical Practice: The State of the Science of Interprofessional Education and Collaborative Practice

Lutfiyya, M. Nawal PhD; Brandt, Barbara F. PhD; Cerra, Frank MD

doi: 10.1097/ACM.0000000000001139

This informed reflection, from the intersection of health professions education and clinical practice, takes stock of the state of the field of interprofessional education (IPE) and collaborative practice (CP) (together IPECP) by answering the following three questions: (1) As a field of study, where is IPECP? (2) As a research enterprise, what are the current analytical gaps? (3) Scientifically, what needs to be done going forward? While IPE and CP, as well as IPECP, have been areas of scholarly inquiry for nearly 50 years, they have collectively and individually had a limited sphere of influence. Analytical gaps identified include little research dealing with big picture health-related outcomes; mixed results on the effectiveness of health care teams; increasing recognition that additional IPECP competencies might be needed; a gap between the identification and application of educational best practices; and the need for sound, reliable, and validated tools for measuring IPECP. The authors outline the work of the National Center for Interprofessional Practice and Education at the University of Minnesota, which is focused on filling the identified analytical gaps by way of strategic actions organized around three domains—(1) developing an IPECP research agenda, (2) nurturing IPECP intervention research grounded in comparative effectiveness research study designs and the assumptions of critical realism, and (3) the creation of a sound informatics platform. The authors argue that filling these gaps is important because if the effectiveness of IPE on CP and of CP on health outcomes is ever to be ascertained, generalizable findings are paramount.

M.N. Lutfiyya is senior research scientist, National Center for Interprofessional Practice and Education, and professor, Department of Pharmacy Care and Pharmaceutical Sciences, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, Minnesota.

B.F. Brandt is director, National Center for Interprofessional Practice and Education, associate vice president for education, University of Minnesota Academic Health Center, and professor, Department of Pharmaceutical Care and Health Systems, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, Minnesota.

F. Cerra is senior advisor, National Center for Interprofessional Practice and Education, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Funding/Support: This work was produced at the National Center for Interprofessional Practice and Education which is supported by a Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) Cooperative Agreement Award (no. UE5HP25067). In addition, the Josiah Macy Jr. Foundation, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation have collectively committed additional funding over five years to support and guide the National Center for Interprofessional Practice and Education. The information, content, and conclusions are those of the authors and should not be construed as the official position or policy of, nor should any endorsements be inferred by, the HRSA, Department of Health and Human Services, or U.S. government.

Other disclosures: The authors report no declaration or conflict of interest. The authors are responsible for the writing and content of this paper.

Ethical approval: Reported as not applicable.

Correspondence should be addressed to M. Nawal Lutfiyya, University of Minnesota–Twin Cities Campus, Academic Health Center, Office of Education, R665 Children’s Rehab Center, MMC 501 Mayo, 420 Delaware St. SE, Minneapolis, MN 55455; telephone: (612) 301-8259; e-mail:

This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-Non Commercial-No Derivatives License 4.0 (CCBY-NC-ND), where it is permissible to download and share the work provided it is properly cited. The work cannot be changed in any way or used commercially.

© 2016 by the Association of American Medical Colleges