IPCE Overview

IPCE: What it is and why it is important to the future of health care

A new and increasingly important concept that we, in the Center for Learning and Professional Development (CLPD), have been exploring interprofessional continuing education or IPCE. According to leaders in the world of continuing education, IPCE occurs “when members from two or more professions learn with, from, and about each other to enable effective collaboration and improve health outcomes.” (ACCME, ACPE, ANCC, 2015).

IPCE is similar to interprofessional education (IPE), which has been incorporated into health care professional curricula across the country. IPE emphasizes the importance of learning as a team as opposed to learning in silos. Both IPE and IPCE lead to enhanced communication among students - and professionals - from different disciplines. Learning together and communicating freely can result in an improved understanding of the roles and responsibilities of other members of the health care team, leading to improved health outcomes. Since 2011, IPE has been studied as one way to enhance patient outcomes through interprofessional, collaborative practice. It is widely accepted that IPE is an effective model that is increasingly used to enhance patient care. Offering IPCE is a continuation of that model.

We know that working together and communicating openly with interprofessional colleagues results in an overall improvement in quality of care. In today’s health care environment, IPCE is being widely recognized as an essential element of high reliability organizations and in the reduction of preventable medical errors. Because we practice in an interprofessional environment, it makes sense that more of our continuing education (CE) offerings be designed with an engaged work force and a collaborative team care in mind.

While we are committed to increasing IPCE opportunities at Dartmouth-Hitchcock (D-H), we will continue to offer focused CE activities that address the unique and individual needs of single health care professions. However, in the CLPD, we believe that IPCE should be an integral and ongoing element of continuing education offerings at D-H. At the present time, the inclusion of two or more professions in the needs assessment, planning, implementation, accreditation, delivery, and evaluation of CE has been inconsistent, with only 11.8% of the CME/CNE accredited activities meeting this criteria in 2019. That being said, CE offerings at D-H are increasingly being offered with varying degrees of interprofessional input and collaboration. Coordination among different professions that require CE can be achieved through IPCE. The CLPD is available to help you transition your activities to an IPCE framework.