The Importance of Learning from other  Healthcare Professionals 

Interprofessional learning (IPL) occurs when individuals from two or more health professions create a joint learning environment underpinned by their differences in knowledge and skill,  so that they may learn from each other to achieve effective future collaboration and  improved health outcomes.1,2 IPL as a concept has been internationally acknowledged since  the 1960s,3and gained traction following WHO reports into its viability for improving  patient outcomes 4. This led to the creation of the CAIPE institute, which paved the way for  interprofessional learning integration within the UK 5. 

IPL can improve staff attitudes towards patient-centred interprofessional care 6, which is  necessary given our ageing, increasingly co-morbid population. Increasingly prevalent  complex, chronic illnesses mean most patients cannot have all their needs met by one  isolated healthcare domain. Multiple systematic reviews have concluded that  interprofessional learning and subsequent practice can improve health outcomes, length of  stay, admission rates, access to health services, and incidence of clinical error 6,7,8. One study  showed a significant reduction in medication error rate following the implementation of an interprofessional medication safety course 9. This is incredibly pertinent given that “most  medical errors since 1999 have been due to health-system failures, rather than the  substandard performance of individual caregivers”10. The effects of interprofessional  learning and practice are felt by patients as well. The Hartford foundation surveyed 1000  patients about receiving team-based care. An overwhelming majority of respondents said  they benefited from team-based care (83%), would want it as part of their care (73%) and felt  that it improved health outcomes (61%) 11. However as previously stated, this type of  effective interprofessional care can only be achieved with IPL, preferably started early in a  healthcare provider’s education to achieve the best outcomes12. 

Regarding learning theories, IPL is supported by social constructivism and social capital,  meaning that the skills acquired in IPL cannot be achieved by any one individual or  profession in complete isolation 13. Behaviourism, reflection, and cognitive constructivism are  also theories which explain IPL’s effectiveness 13.  

Personal examples of IPL which stand out include a team-based emergency simulation training exercise, where our medical team worked with nursing students and a crash team to learn about how we can rely on each other’s strengths to improve response speed to cardiac  arrest scenarios. I observed a similar exercise at a professional level, where various theatre  staff from multiple backgrounds had an IPL session with the aim of improving surgery times  and reducing surgical errors. Lastly, following an audit I conducted on GP placement, an IPL session was organised to tackle substandard attainment of follow-up for chronic diseases such as hypothyroidism. This example stood out as the IPL session included medical and  non-medical staff such as receptionists and practice managers. 

Interprofessional learning has a crucial part to play in improving patient outcomes, giving  healthcare students a more comprehensive education, and in my opinion, a mutual  understanding which affords us a level of interdisciplinary advocacy and support which we  would not be able to achieve otherwise. 


1. Gilbert, J.H.V., Yan, J. and Hoffman, S.J. (2010). A WHO report: framework for action on  interprofessional education and collaborative practice. Journal of Allied Health, [online] 39  Suppl 1, pp.196–197. Available at: 

2. Hosoya, O. (2017). Introduction: Interprofessional Education (IPE) and Pharmaceutical  Education: Saitama Interprofessional Education Project. YAKUGAKU ZASSHI, 137(7), pp.847– 852. doi:10.1248/yakushi.17-00003-1. 

3. Jackson, A. and Bluteau, P. (2011). Interprofessional Education, Collaborative Practice and  Primary Care. InnovAiT: Education and inspiration for general practice, 4(4), pp.230–235.  doi:10.1093/innovait/inq166. 

4. Schmitt, M., Blue, A., Aschenbrener, C.A. and Viggiano, T.R. (2011). Core Competencies for  Interprofessional Collaborative Practice: Reforming Health Care by Transforming Health  Professionalsʼ Education. Academic Medicine, 86(11), p.1351.  


5. Sakr, C.J., Fakih, L., Dejong, J., Yazbick-Dumit, N., Soueidan, H., Haidar, W., Boufarhat, E. and  Akl, I.B. (2022). Can interprofessional education change students’ attitudes? A case study from  Lebanon. BMC Medical Education, 22(1). doi:10.1186/s12909-022-03608-z. 

6. M, H., D, F., I, K., S, R. and H, B. (2007). A best evidence systematic review of interprofessional  education: BEME Guide no. 9. [online] Medical teacher. Available at: 

7. Reeves, S., Goldman, J., Burton, A. and Sawatzky-Girling, B. (2010). Synthesis of systematic  review evidence of interprofessional education. Journal of Allied Health, [online] 39 Suppl 1,  pp.198–203. Available at: [Accessed 30 Nov.  2022]. 

8. Reeves, S., Perrier, L., Goldman, J., Freeth, D. and Zwarenstein, M. (2013). Interprofessional  education: effects on professional practice and healthcare outcomes. Cochrane Database of  Systematic Reviews, 3(3). doi:10.1002/14651858.cd002213.pub3. 

9. Irajpour, A., Farzi, S., Saghaei, M. and Ravaghi, H. (2019). Effect of interprofessional education  of medication safety program on the medication error of physicians and nurses in the 

intensive care units. Journal of Education and Health Promotion, [online] 8(196).  doi:10.4103/jehp.jehp_200_19. 

10. Morrison, G., Goldfarb, S. and Lanken, P.N. (2010). Team Training of Medical Students in the  21st Century: Would Flexner Approve? Academic Medicine, [online] 85(2), p.254. Available at: y_Would_Flexner_Approve?from=cover_page [Accessed 30 Nov. 2022]. 

11. The John A. Hartford Foundation Working to improve the health of older Americans. (n.d.).  [online] Available at:  [Accessed 30 Nov. 2022]. 

12. Advancing Interprofessional Education (2011). Advancing Interprofessional Education. [online]  RWJF. Available at: interprofessional-education.html. 

13. Hean, S., Craddock, D., Hammick, M. and Hammick, M. (2012). Theoretical insights into  interprofessional education: AMEE Guide No. 62. Medical Teacher, 34(2), pp.e78–e101.  doi:10.3109/0142159x.2012.650740.

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