Repositioning interprofessional education from the margins to the centre of Australian health professional education-what is required?
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Objective: This paper examines the implementation and implications of four development and research initiatives, collectively titled the Curriculum Renewal Studies program (CRS), occurring over a 6-year period ending in 2015 and focusing on interprofessional education (IPE) within Australian pre-registration health professional education. Methods: The CRS was developed as an action-focused and participatory program of studies. This research and development program used a mixed-methods approach. Structured survey, interviews and extensive documentary analyses were supplemented by semi-structured interviews, focus groups, large group consultations and consensus building methods. Narrative accounts of participants' experiences and an approach to the future development of Australian IPE were developed. Results: Detailed accounts of existing Australian IPE curricula and educational activity were developed. These accounts were published and used in several settings to support curriculum and national workforce development. Reflective activities engaging with the findings facilitated the development of a national approach to the future development of Australian IPE-a national approach focused on coordinated and collective governance and development. Conclusion: This paper outlines the design of an innovative approach to national IPE governance and development. It explores how ideas drawn from sociocultural theories were used to guide the choice of methods and to enrich data analysis. Finally, the paper reflects on the implications of CRS findings for health professional education, workforce development and the future of Australian IPE. What is known about the topic?: IPE to enable the achievement of interprofessional and collaborative practice capabilities is widely accepted and promoted. However, many problems exist in embedding and sustaining IPE as a system-wide element of health professional education. How these implementation problems can be successfully addressed is a health service and education development priority. What does this paper add?: The paper presents a summary of how Australian IPE was conceptualised, developed and delivered across 26 universities during the period of the four CRS studies. It points to strengths and limitations of existing IPE. An innovative approach to the future development of Australian IPE is presented. The importance of sociocultural factors in the development of practitioner identity and practice development is identified. What are the implications for practitioners?: The findings of the CRS program present a challenging view of current Australian IPE activity and what will be required to meet industry and health workforce expectations related to the development of an Australian interprofessional- and collaborative-practice-capable workforce. Although the directions identified pose considerable challenges for the higher education and health sectors, they also provide a consensus-based approach to the future development of Australian IPE. As such they can be used as a blueprint for national development.
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