The Scope of Interprofessional Education at UIC

Interprofessional education (IPE) and interprofessional collaborative practice (ICP) are significant foci in changing models of health care education and delivery.  The need for effective models of team-based care was identified by the Institute of Medicine (IOM) as early as 1972 and produced some immediate reaction, but it was not sustained. It was not until two IOM publications, the first in 2001 and the second in 2003, shed light on the problems of medical error and the need to align payment with quality care that national attention was sharply focused on the actions needed for U.S. health care system reform.[1]  Over the next several years, other organizations added to the growing pressure to include training in effective collaboration and implementation of IPE within health professions education programs.  As an example, the World Health Organization (WHO) created the Framework for Action on Interprofessional Education & Collaborative Practice,[2] which called for the training of a "collaboration ready" health care workforce.

Interprofessional education is most commonly defined as “occasions when two or more professions learn with, from and about each other to improve collaboration and quality of care.”[3]  It is a specific educational approach to learning that requires deliberate interaction among learners from different professions.

UIC, as an urban, research-intensive public university with seven health sciences colleges housed on six campuses throughout northern and central Illinois provides health professions education programs that train both essential direct care providers (advanced practice nurses, dentists, dieticians, occupational therapists, pharmacists, physical therapists, physicians, registered nurses, social workers) and those that are critical to the success of health care operations and goals (health care administrators, health informaticians, health information managers).  UIC has over 5,000 students enrolled in its health professions education programs, and graduates over 900 students from these programs each year.  In addition, UIC has responsibility for graduate education for more than 1000 residents and fellows in dentistry, medicine, pharmacy and physical therapy and employs more than 3,000 health care professionals as faculty and staff.  Given these numbers, the impact of an effective IPE program on health and health care delivery in Illinois should not be underestimated.

UIC is one of the nation's most diverse public research universities and has a longstanding, foundational commitment to valuing diversity, including efforts to mitigate the negative effects of unwarranted hierarchy, detrimental power relationships, and group stereotypes in many sectors including education, health care and business. The patient population served by UI Health includes many who are significantly underserved with regard to health promotion and health care.  UIC currently has multiple initiatives to address diversity and health disparities and the establishment of an IPE curriculum has the potential to assist in more fully addressing the needs of UIC's student and patient populations.  As the clinical enterprise for a leading urban, academic health center, UI Health provides inpatient and outpatient care in its 495-bed hospital, an Outpatient Care Center, the twelve-location Mile Square Health Center, and an urgent care center.  UI Health is committed to excellence in patient care and to the reduction of health disparities.  Team-based care and collaborative practice are critical to both.

The development of IPE offers the opportunity to engage students, staff, and practicing health care professionals with training and quality improvement efforts.  UIC health professions students receive their clinical training in health care settings across the U.S. and around the world.  Illinois training sites include not only UI Health, but many other community- or medical system-based sites. For example, the Peoria campus has a close partnership with OSF HealthCare. The successful development of collaboration-ready professionals depends heavily on the role models to whom students are exposed in clinical training.  It is therefore imperative that UIC look beyond the classroom and UI Health to engage with other clinical and community partners and to make certain that those partners understand the benefits of IPE and are ready to incorporate its principles into their practices.  Reaching out to provide IPE training to clinical and community partners will help to ensure that UIC health professions students participate in settings that reinforce and further develop their competence in team collaboration and patient-centered care.

[1] Kohn LT, Corrigan JM, Donaldson MS, eds., To Err Is Human: Building a Safer Healthcare System, Washington DC: National Academy Press, November 1999; Institute of Medicine, Crossing the Quality Chasm: A New Health System for the 21st Century, Washington DC: National Academy Press, 2001.

[2] World Health Organization, Framework for Action on Interprofessional Education & Collaborative Practice, 2010,


IPE Events