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The Definition and Principles of Interprofessional Education

Defining Interprofessional Education

 The definition

"Interprofessional Education occurs when two or more professions learn with, from and about each other to improve collaboration and the quality of care"
                                                                                             CAIPE 2002

CAIPE uses the term "interprofessional education" (IPE) to include all such learning in academic and work based settings before and after qualification, adopting an inclusive view of "professional".

The Principles of Interprofessional Education

CAIPE commends the following principles, drawn from the experience of its members and the interprofessional literature, for the consideration of all who are engaged in commissioning, designing, delivering and evaluating interprofessional education.


Interprofessional education:

  • Focuses on the needs of individuals, families and communities to improve their      quality of care, health outcomes and wellbeing;                                                    Keeping best practice central throughout all teaching and learning

  • Applies equal opportunities within and between the professions and all with whom they learn and work;                                                                                                   Acknowledging but setting aside differences in power and status between professions

  • Respects individuality, difference and diversity within and between the professions and all with whom they learn and work;                                                                             Utilising distinctive contributions to learning and practice

  • Sustains the identity and expertise of each profession;                                          Presenting each profession positively and distinctively

  • Promotes parity between professions in the learning environment;                           Agreeing ‘ground rules’

  • Instils interprofessional values and perspectives throughout uniprofessional and multiprofessional learning.                                                                                   Permeating means and ends for the professional learning in which it is embedded


Interprofessional education:  

  • Comprises a continuum of learning for education, health, managerial, medical, social care and other professions;                                                                          Sequencing interprofessional learning progressively throughout pre-registration and post-experience studies                         

  • Encourages student’ participation in planning, progressing and evaluating their learning;                                                                                                               Including them with teachers and others in working groups

  • Reviewing policy and practice critically from different perspectives;                         Subjecting policy and practice to critical analysis against experience and evidence

  • Enables the professions to learn with, from and about each other to optimise exchange of experience and expertise;                                                                               Facilitating interaction, exchange and co-reflection as they compare perceptions, values, roles, responsibilities, expertise and experience                  

  • Deals in difference as it searches for common ground;                                   Showcasing different yet mutually reinforcing roles and expertise in collaborative practice grounded in mutual understanding working towards shared objectives  

  • Integrates learning in college and the work place;                                                  Teachers and practice supervisors planning, delivering, assessing and evaluating classroom and practice-based learning together      

  • Synthesises theory and practice;                                                                        Deriving theory from and applying it to practice           

  • Grounds teaching and learning in evidence;                                                                Citing findings from research including those in systematic reviews of process and outcomes from interprofessional learning

  • Includes discrete and dedicated interprofessional  sequences and placements;          Building in dedicated interprofessional learning based on these principles

  • Applies consistent assessment criteria and processes for all the participant professions; Including summative assessment by the same means to the same standards 

  • Carries credit towards professional qualifications;                                                    Negotiating ways in which satisfactory fulfilment of interprofessional assignments meets requirements for professional awards

  • Involves service users and carers in teaching and learning;                                     Including them in planning, delivery, assessing and evaluating teaching             


Interprofessional education:

  • Engenders interprofessional capability;                                                                Devising outcome-led learning delivering collaborative capabilities                    

  • Enhances practice within each profession;                                                           Enabling each profession to improve its practice to complement that of others     

  • Informs joint action to improve services and instigate change;                                Applying critical analysis to collaborative practice

  • Improves outcomes for individuals, families and communities;                                Responding more fully to their needs 

  • Disseminates its experience;                                                                      Contributing to the advancement and mutual understanding in interprofessional learning in response to enquiries, at conferences and via the professional and interprofessional literature  

  • Subjects developments to systematic evaluation and research;                              Collecting data systematically to test against the requirements and expectations of stakeholders, funding, validating and regulatory bodies and to contribute to the evidence base  

Hugh Barr
Helena Low                                                                                    January 2011