IPCE Strategies: From Team-based Education to Team-based Patient Care

By Ann C. Lichti, CHCP, Senior Director of Accreditation, Compliance, and Outcomes, Physicians’ Education Resource®, LLC

This article addresses the following Alliance National Learning Competencies:

  1. Competency 2 (Designing Educational Interventions)
  2. Competency 4 (Collaborating and Partnering with Stakeholders)
  3. Competency 8 (Engaging in Systems Thinking in CEhp)

In 2009, the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education (ACCME), the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education (ACPE), and the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) launched Joint Accreditation — a process designed to promote interprofessional continuing education (IPCE)1. There are currently 35 continuing education providers with Joint Accreditation accredited to provide continuing education for the healthcare team. Numerous other accredited and non-accredited providers partner with one another to plan, develop, implement, and evaluate IPCE activities. The increasing number of providers who are Joint Accredited, and those related IPCE activities, aligns with emerging healthcare trends.

Patients are becoming more directly involved in the care they receive. The model of care in hospitals and health systems is shifting from physician-centric to team-based care. The National Care Strategy (NCS), which was mandated by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, includes six priorities2:

  1. Making care safer by reducing harm caused in the delivery of care.
  2. Ensuring that each person and family is engaged as partners in their care.
  3. Promoting effective communication and coordination of care.
  4. Promoting the most effective prevention and treatment practices for the leading causes of mortality, starting with cardiovascular disease.
  5. Working with communities to promote wide use of best practices to enable healthy living.
  6. Making quality care more affordable for individuals, families, employers, and governments by developing and spreading new healthcare delivery models.

The IPCE similarly has established four competency domains3:

  1. Values/Ethics for Interprofessional Practice
  2. Roles/Responsibilities
  3. Interprofessional Communication
  4. Teams and Teamwork

The priorities and competency domains established by NQS and the IPCE share common objectives of team-based care coordination and communication.

Seeking Out Partners Who Work Within an Existing IPCE Framework
When embarking on the IPCE process, providers should “identify and examine academic/practice partnerships that demonstrate purposeful modeling to advance team-based education and collaborative practice4.” These educational partners can include accredited (or non-accredited) medical education companies, schools of allied health professions, hospitals, clinical specialty societies, or health systems. Providers might also want to research partnerships with governmental agencies and health insurance companies. All of these stakeholders play a role in ensuring quality in patient care in delivery. Many organizations have considerable expertise with IPCE and collaborating with them will help with:

  • Identifying learners’ shared core competencies;
  • Uncovering common barriers based on a shared practice setting;
  • Aligning IPCE goals with learners’ existing system-based frameworks;
  • Faculty selection and determining roles and responsibilities; and
  • Outcomes data collection and analysis.

Whether developing a stand-alone IPCE activity, or a multi-year initiative with numerous interventions using various formats, outlining each organization’s roles and responsibilities is critical to ensuring success. During the planning phases, the educational partners should develop a basic agreement summarizing the expectations and timelines to be signed by everyone. Documenting these shared goals will help set up a framework for success and provide a mutual resource that all partners can reference during the development, imple­mentation, and evaluation phases of the project. Just as the educational intervention aims to encourage collaboration and communication between interprofessional healthcare provid­ers, frequent communication throughout each phase of the IPCE project by each educational partner is just as essential.

Tailored Educational Design
Rapidly emerging technologies enable providers to employ IPCE innovative approaches. While live lectures continue to be a mainstay in continuing education, providers might also consider incorporating profession-specific breakout sessions or education tracks to tailor content to their diverse learners. To ensure learners understand both shared and individual goals, providers and faculty should focus on addressing the question, “What’s in this education for me?” relative to each profession. Pharmacists may need to focus on the mechanism of action of specific treatments, administration, and dosing; physicians may want to hear about the latest clinical trial data and how to apply it in a clinical setting; nurses may need to know how to manage the side effects of therapies and optimal treatment adherence strategies for patients. These breakout sessions can also provide time for a Q&A with faculty who are members of these respective professions. It is important for providers to consider the intimidation factor that still occurs within a blended audience setting. Questions that are specific to challenges that nurses face may or may not relate to those faced by physicians or pharmacists. Common challenges of each profession should be identified during the planning stages so that faculty can address these within the educational intervention. General sessions can address common learning objectives and educational gaps faced by each profession. iPad-based technology offers faculty a mechanism to provide customized case studies based on learner demographics. Faculty panel discussions are excellent methods of showcasing collaboration between each profession and a way of tying the breakout sessions together. Resources and related education for learners that sustain competence and encourage clinical behavior change can include:

  • Profession-specific communication guides to encourage continued collaboration;
  • Self-assessment modules to allow learners from each profession to reflect on how well they are incorporating strategies learned in the IPCE initiative;
  • Faculty-directed videos that share best practices for effective teamwork and shared clinical decision making;
  • Patient simulation components that encourage team-based problem solving; or
  • Scheduled and moderated “Ask the Expert” sessions that allow learners to share challenges and obtain feedback from faculty.

These resources can provide additional help so providers are able to facilitate larger, interprofessional communities of practice for their learners.


  1. Joint Accreditation for Interprofessional Continuing Education™. http://www.jointaccreditation.org
  2. National Quality Forum (NQF), Preferred Practices and Performance Measures for Measuring and Reporting Care Coordination: A Consensus Report, Washington, DC: NQF; 2010.
  3. Global Forum on Innovation in Health Professional Education; Board on Global Health; Institute of Medicine. Interprofessional Education for Collaboration: Learning How to Improve Health from Interprofessional Models Across the Continuum of Education to Practice: Workshop Summary. Washington (DC): National Academies Press (US); 2013 Oct 3.
  4. Interprofessional Education Collaborative Expert Panel (2011). Core Competencies for Interprofessional Collaborative Practice: Report of an Expert Panel. Washington, DC: Interprofessional Education Collaborative.


The opinions expressed are those of the author and do not constitute the views of Physicians’ Education Resource®, LLC.

Points for Practice:

  1. Encourage accredited providers to develop IPCE activities that facilitate communication and collaboration among physicians, pharmacists, nurses, and other members of the health care team
  2. Support IPCE partnerships among accredited providers, hospitals, clinical specialty societies, and governmental agencies that have a stake in improving patient care
  3. Share the success of IPCE activities via publications and presentations
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