IPEC: What is the Interprofessional Education Collaborative?

Perhaps you’ve heard of the Interprofessional Education Collaborative (IPEC) before. Or maybe you haven’t – but you’ve reaped the benefits of its work.

IPEC was created in 2009 when six national educational associations of health professionals “…formed a collaborative to promote and encourage constituent efforts that would advance substantive interprofessional learning experiences to help prepare future health professionals for enhanced team-based care of patients and improved population health outcomes.” This collaborative brought together higher education from various medical fields, providing interprofessional collaboration to guide professional schools.

The idea behind IPEC is that students have a more well-rounded education, are more able to work as a part of a team and can work interprofessionally. According to the World Health Organization, “Interprofessional education occurs when students from two or more professions learn about, from, and with each other to enable effective collaboration and improve health outcomes. Once students understand how to work interprofessionally, they are ready to enter the workplace as a member of the collaborative practice team. This is a key step in moving health systems from fragmentation to a position of strength.”

IPEC includes the following national associations:

  • Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (ACEND)
  • American Association of Colleges and Nursing (AACN)
  • American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine (AACOM)
  • American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy (AACP)
  • American Association of Colleges of Podiatric Medicine (AACPM)
  • American Council of Academic Physical Therapy (AACPT)
  • American Dental Education Association (ADEA)
  • American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA)
  • American Psychological Association (APA)
  • American Speech-Language Hearing Association (ASHA)
  • Association of Academic Health Sciences Libraries (AAHSL)
  • Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC)
  • Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges (AAVMC)
  • Association of Chiropractic Colleges (ACC)
  • Association of Schools and Colleges of Optometry (ASCO)
  • Association of Schools and Programs of Public Health (ASPPH)
  • Association of Schools of Allied Health Professions (ASAHP)
  • Council on Social Work Education (CSWE)
  • National League for Nursing (NLN)
  • Physician Assistant Education Association (PAEA)

Core Competencies

IPEC has designated ‘core competencies’, which are to guide patient care, as well as to guide professional collaboration.

Competency 1: Work with individuals of other professions to maintain a climate of mutual respect and shared values. (Values/Ethics for Interprofessional Practice)

Competency 2: Use the knowledge of one’s own role and those of other professions to appropriately assess and address the health care needs of patients and to promote and advance the health of populations. (Roles/Responsibilities)

Competency 3: Communicate with patients, families, communities, and professionals in health and other fields in a responsive and responsible manner that supports a team approach to the promotion and maintenance of health and the prevention and treatment of disease. (Interprofessional Communication)

Competency 4: Apply relationship-building values and the principles of team dynamics to perform effectively in different team roles to plan, deliver, and evaluate patient/population-centered care and population health programs and policies that are safe, timely, efficient, effective, and equitable. (Teams and Teamwork)

These competencies are subdivided into sub-competencies. These sub-competencies are written by IPEC so that professionals from all medical professions will work together with the same values and be respectful towards each other. There are 39 sub-competencies, which can be found in IPECs Core Competencies for Interprofessional Collaborative Practice: 2016 Update.

The Research

Logically, an interprofessional approach makes sense. In a study published in the Journal of Teaching and Journal Resources, 1,151 students third and fourth-year students participated in a study. 464 students were from the University of Houston College of Pharmacy, 450 students were from the Baylor College of Medicine, and 237 students were from Texas Women’s University Nelda C. Stark College of Nursing.

Educational gaps were identified, and the students practiced collaborative care with communication and teamwork. The medical case was kept simple – the hypothetical patient was given an overdose of heparin but was hemodynamically stable. In the hypothetical situation, the team members had to explain to her family what had occurred.

Facilitators assisted the students as well as debriefed after, reinforcing learning objectives.

At the conclusion of the study, the students had to complete a survey. All of the competencies were scored. However, the students found that the exercise was highly effective – almost 100% of the students stated that “I have an improved understanding of the perspectives of other disciplines.”

The Bottom Line…

The competencies and tools utilized and recommended by IPEC are a powerful way to practice for all medical disciplines.


Interprofessional Education Collaborative. (2016). Core competencies for interprofessional collaborative practice: 2016 update. Washington, DC: Interprofessional Education Collaborative.

Interprofessional Educational Collaborative. (2018). What is interprofessional education (IPE)? Retrieved from https://www.ipecollaborative.org/about-ipec.html

Kusnoor A, Gill AC, Hatfield CL, et al. An interprofessional standardized patient case for improving collaboration, shared accountability, and respect in team-based family discussions. MedEdPORTAL. 2019;15:10791. https://doi.org/10.15766/mep_2374-8265.10791

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