Nursing professional development (NPD) specialists are faced with challenges and opportunities every day. Interprofessional education (IPE) is an approach they can use to meet some of those challenges. IPE is defined as education "when students from the health professions and related disciplines learn together about the concepts of health care and the provision of health care services toward improving the effectiveness and the quality of health care" (Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, 2011). IPE and creating partnerships to provide IPE are opportunities for NPD specialists.
IPE in academia is not new. In 1972, the Institute of Medicine report "Educating for the Health Team" included recommendations from 120 nursing, medicine, dentistry, allied health, and pharmacy leaders. This report stated that team-based education would result in collaboration that would improve patient care. The focus has expanded to include interdisciplinary workforce training and development. As reported in the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Nursing Research Network (2011), "Interprofessional Education," interest in IPE has grown over the past 20 years. Research in IPE has shown increased collaboration in practice between health professionals, especially between nurses and physicians. This collaboration has resulted in improved quality of care and patient outcomes (Barr, 2002; Barnsteiner, Disch, Hall, Mayer, & Moore, 2007).
Many new graduate nurses participated in IPE in their basic nursing education. However, many experienced nurses have not had this experience. Their professional education had primarily been with nurses. Some NPD specialists have not had the opportunity to partner with educators in other disciplines. Now is the time! Resources and research are available to provide direction for IPE.
The Core Competencies for Interprofessional Collaborative Practice by the Interprofessional Education Collabora-tive Expert Panel (2011) included the following sponsors: American Association of Colleges of Nursing, American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine, American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy, American Dental Education Association, Association of American Medical Colleges, and Association of Schools of Public Health. This expert panel report provides an excellent resource on the compelling case for IPE, the competency approach to interprofessional learning, core competencies for collaborative practice, examples of successful IPE learning activities, and challenges to implementing core interprofessional competencies. The core competencies for interprofessional collaborative practice include values and ethics for interprofessional practice, roles and responsibilities, interprofesssional communication, and teams and teamwork.
The simulation column in the Journal for Nurses in Professional Development will include a series focusing on IPE, co-authored by Mary Holtschneider and Dr. Chan Park. The last column, "Interprofessional Education: Implications for Nursing Professional Development Practice," provided an excellent overview of IPE. The column in this issue focuses on IPE and simulation. What a great opportunity for all of us to learn practical and proven approaches to IPE.
Expanding and refining our skills in IPE indicate using "creativity and innovation to improve the quality of the learning experience," as stated in the Nursing Professional Development: Scope and Standards of Practice (American Nurses Association & National Nursing Staff Development Organization, 2010, p. 32). I look forward to learning new approaches and insights related to IPE. IPE is an excellent opportunity for NPD specialists to meet the challenges of today's healthcare organizations.