Our Priorities Interprofessional Education and Teamwork

Health professions schools have historically trained students as highly skilled, but largely autonomous, professionals. Health care delivery systems are disrupting the environment for patient care and education in ways that require new models of collaborative care and high performing teams.

Encouraging Teamwork

We support projects aimed at accelerating interprofessional education (IPE) that help students from medicine, nursing, pharmacy, social work, public health, and other healthcare disciplines become members of high performing teams.

Building New Skills and Expertise

  • Expecting health professions students from all disciplines to engage in classroom, small group, simulation, and clinical practice settings. This collaborative learning helps students develop the competencies for effective work with each other and with patients and families.
  • Partnering with clinical practice organizations—including community-based health centers, free clinics, rural primary care practices, and more—to give health professions students, faculty, and clinicians experience working as part of a care team to improve the delivery of collaborative care for patients and communities.
  • Including patients and family members as partners in the education and training of health professionals. Voices of patients and families are increasingly involved in the education of health professionals through sharing the patient experience with health and illness, and with patient-centered decision-making.

Overcoming Hurdles to Implementation

Challenges that health professions schools face in providing and expanding interprofessional education include:

  • Addressing logistical barriers to delivering IPE, including differing school calendars, lack of adequate classroom space, lack of time in already full student course loads, distance between campuses, and more.
  • Increasing the number of interprofessional educational opportunities for students and faculty alike, and integrating IPE more fully into health professions schools’ curricula. This requires developing more IPE-focused partnerships between health professions education institutions and clinical practice organizations and sites.
  • Facilitating a difficult cultural shift within and among the various health professions and within the healthcare system itself.

Learn about promising models we’ve funded

National Center for Interprofessional Practice and Education

Just two years in, the Center—housed at the University of Minnesota—has already grounded itself as the national (and international) hub for interprofessional education (IPE) resources and best practices.

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Preparing Students to Face Refugee Health Challenges

How can soon-to-be-doctors play a part in helping refugees in their community?

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Moving Student Teams Beyond the Classroom

How one institution is training first-year students to work with patients out in the community.

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Improving the Clinical Reasoning of Medical Students: Guaranteeing Competency of Graduates

Southern Illinois University School of Medicine is reforming its four-year curriculum. With Macy support, the school is improving clinical decision-making and critical thinking, and addressing the need to create more flexible, individualized learning plans for students.

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Preparing Students to Care for Patients Means Preparing Them to Be Excellent Team Members

While members of the health professions — including nurses, physician assistants, pharmacists, physicians, social workers, physical therapists, and others — all have distinct roles and specialties, they all share the same goal: to provide the best quality of care to the patient.

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Reframing the Academic Medical Center through Interprofessional Effectiveness

With funding from the Macy Foundation, Columbia University brought its program in narrative medicine to medical, nursing, dental and public health students to improve teamwork and fortify their clinical practice.

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Interprofessional Learning Exchange and Development Center (I•LEAD)

Now in its fourth year, I-LEAD involves students from medicine, nursing, dentistry, and social work in interprofessional learning opportunities that are woven throughout each school’s curriculum.

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Global Forum on Innovation In Health Professional Education

To spur the incubation and evaluation of new ideas, in 2012 Macy and others supported the Institute of Medicine (IOM) at the National Academies to establish the Global Forum on Innovation in Health Professional Education.

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Improving Communication Among Interprofessional Healthcare Teams

This project, proposed by the University of Washington Schools of Health Sciences (Schools of Medicine, Nursing, Dentistry, Pharmacy, Social Work and Public Health) aims to validate and then disseminate an innovative simulation-based team-training program that was developed to improve communication among interprofessional healthcare team members.

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From Campus Curriculum to Rural Community Health Centers: A Statewide Model of Osteopathic IPE

From new-curriculum-content to partnerships with rural community health centers, the University of New England is taking a comprehensive approach to interprofessional education and team-based care.

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Building Nurse Leaders to Improve Community Health

A national leadership program is supporting nurses to work with other health professions in the community.

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The Faculty Preceptor as Nexus: Developing Preceptors Who Blend IPE at Point of Primary Care

When Drs. Sarah Shrader and Jana Zaudke attended an interprofessional conference a few years ago, they had an epiphany. They realized that in order to align interprofessional education and practice, their efforts need to be focused on the preceptor, in particular the interprofessional preceptor.

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Retooling Health Professions Education for Quality and Safety

The Institute for Healthcare Improvement is at the forefront of a changing culture in medical education, one that has shifted from training students in silos to interprofessional models that stress the value of teamwork for better patient care and safety.

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An Education and Practice Collaboration to Relieve Pain and Suffering

To equip the future healthcare workforce with the skills they need to effectively relieve pain and suffering, the UC Davis Health System set out to develop interprofessional pain-management modules for pre-licensure students.

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NYU 3T: Teaching, Technology, Teamwork

NYU 3T: Teaching, Technology, Teamwork uses online learning and computer-assisted instruction to bring together medical and nurses students to learn collaboratively.

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From ACOs to Homeless Shelters: Health Professions Education in Arizona

With support from the Josiah Macy Jr. Foundation, Arizona State University and the University of Arizona at Phoenix are implementing a graduate-level curriculum that will better prepare health professions students to provide primary care across urban and rural areas, serve an ethnically diverse population, and meet residents’ health care needs.

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Campus-Wide IPE: University of Colorado

The Anschutz Medical Campus of the University of Colorado, Denver was intentionally designed to facilitate collaborative, interprofessional education among its six health professions schools.

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Working as a Team to Improve Diagnosis

A new curriculum aims to reduce medical errors.

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Innovative Tools for Evaluating Interprofessional Competencies

With a grant from the Macy Foundation, an interprofessional team of investigators from medicine, nursing and evaluation sciences are developing six new innovative tools to evaluate interprofessional competencies.

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PACER (Professionals Accelerating Clinical and Educational Redesign)

Primary care has undergone dramatic change in recent years. In response, new training models have emerged to better prepare future health professionals for a career in primary care.

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Joint Clinical Training for Nursing and Medicine Students

At the University of Virginia (UVA), the schools of nursing and medicine are implementing a combined curriculum that brings students together to learn teamwork skills and develop collaborative behaviors that will, in the long run, help them work effectively as part of a health care team.

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Using Blended e-Learning for Interprofessional Education

A consortium of five southeastern universities is developing a blended interprofessional education curriculum that combines online learning with the more traditional face-to-face instruction and experiential learning that occurs as students transition from the classroom to early clinical experiences.

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Integrating Shared Decision-Making and Interprofessional Education

Three years ago, with support from the Macy Foundation, Prof. Glyn Elwyn, a family doctor and researcher, and his colleagues at Dartmouth College set out to teach medicine, nursing and physician assistant students how to better engage patients in health care decision-making.

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News and Commentary


Why We Need More Hispanic Doctors

More than 18% of people in the United States are Hispanic, yet only 5% of U.S. doctors are Hispanic. We need a health care workforce that is diverse, that looks like and has had experiences like the public it serves.

New Research Q&A: Creating Safe and Effective Implicit Bias Training

We spoke with 2016 Macy Faculty Scholar and Associate Professor of Medicine at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Cristina Gonzalez, MD, MEd about her research and challenges of training students on implicit bias.

Social Determinants of Health: A required curriculum

As our healthcare system changes to a model that promotes not only treating and curing disease but preventing illness in the first place, doctors must be prepared to keep their patients healthy.

New Research Q&A: Why Do We Use Different Language to Describe Male and Female Teachers?

We spoke with 2018 Macy Faculty Scholar and Associate Dean of Faculty Development at the University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine, C. Jessica Dine, MD, about her recently published a paper in JAMA...


Read Improving Environments for Learning in the Health Professions

David M. Irby, PhD, chaired the April 2018 Macy Conference whose proceedings are recorded in this report, Improving Environments for Learning in the Health Professions.

Read Conference Summary: Improving Environments for Learning in the Health Professions

In April 2018, the Macy Foundation hosted a conference to identify the elements of optimal health professions learning environments and recommend actions needed to better align them with patient needs and societal...

Read Special Report of the President

In a new special report Macy looks back at ten years of progress and accomplishments, and spotlights the people and ideas that will continue to bring about change in health professions education reform.

Read Registered Nurses: Partners in Transforming Primary Care

Thomas Bodenheimer, MD, MPH and Diana Mason, PhD, RN, FAAN co-chaired the June 2016 conference whose proceedings are recorded in this report, Registered Nurses: Partners in Transforming Primary Care.