Tuesday, 7 February 2017

Misalignments of purpose and power in an early Canadian interprofessional education initiative

ArticleinAdvances in Health Sciences Education · January 2017
DOI: 10.1007/s10459-016-9746-x
Interprofessional education (IPE) has been widely incorporated into health professional curricula and accreditation standards despite an arguably thin base of evidence regarding its clinical effects, theoretical underpinnings, and social implications. To better understand how and why IPE first took root, but failed to grow, this study examines one of the earliest documented IPE initiatives, which took place at the University of British Columbia between 1960 and 1975. We examined a subset of 110 texts (academic literature, grey literature, and unpublished records) from a larger study that uses Critical Discourse Analysis to trace the emergence of IPE in Canada. We asked how IPE was promoted and received, by whom, for what purposes, and to what effects. Our analysis demonstrates that IPE was promoted as a response to local challenges for the Faculty of Medicine as well as national challenges for Canada's emerging public healthcare system. These dual exigencies enabled the IPE initiative, but they shaped it in somewhat divergent ways: the former gave rise to its core component (a health sciences centre) and the latter its ultimate purpose (increasing the role of non-medical professions in primary care). Reception of the initiative was complicated by a further tension: nurses and allied health professionals were sometimes represented as independent experts with unique knowledge and skills, and sometimes as assistants or substitutes for medical doctors. We relate the successes and frustrations of this early initiative to particular (mis)alignments of purpose and relationships of power, some of which continue to enable and constrain IPE today