Interprofessional Education for Pain Practitioners

Author: Mary Lynn McPherson

Interprofessional education is critically important, and accrediting organizations of schools of pharmacy, nursing, medicine, social work, and so forth, I have recognized this. So there's a move afoot to incorporate interprofessional education in all of our professional curricula. It's critically important that we do this because when our students graduate, they practice in an interprofessional environment. How can we expect them to flourish and practice in this interprofessional environment if they have not been trained to do so? It's one thing to say this is a multidisciplinary practice which is where practitioners pretty much are working in silos, side-by-side, which is not realistic in real life. It's not even enough to say interdisciplinary which is where they actually talk to each other. I think the standard should be transdisciplinary practice, where each healthcare practitioner has a keen understanding of not only the other practitioner's roles, but in fact can assimilate a portion of that. I like to say I'm 70 percent pharmacist, and 10 percent physician, and 10 percent social worker, and maybe 10 percent nurse. So we're teaching our student professionals about the roles and responsibilities of every member of the team, the values, the ethics, most importantly, communication. How does a nurse talk to a physician? How does a physician talk to a pharmacist? I think these are all critically important skills.

Research has shown that in our current healthcare model, where we do not practice in an interprofessional environment consistently, we are seeing fragmented healthcare which leads to poor patient outcomes. But in those circumstances where we're able to train our learners in an interprofessional environment, we have a much more cohesive healthcare system and this has, in fact, led to superior healthcare outcomes. So whether it's clinical, economic, or humanistic, this is a good idea.

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