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Working Together to Develop Standardized Accreditation Mechanisms

November 9, 2017

By John H.V.Gilbert, C.M., Ph.D., LLD., FCAHS. Professor Emeritus, University of British Columbia. Adjunct Professor, Dalhousie University, DR. TMA Pai Endowment Chair in Interprofessional Education & Practice, Manipal University. Adjunct Professor, University of Technology, Sydney. Senior Scholar, WHO Collaborating Centre on Health Workforce Planning & Research, Dalhousie University. Founding Chair, Canadian Interprofessional Health Collaborative.

1.0 Introduction – Framing the issue

The 4th Global Forum of Human Resources of Health is 2 weeks away, with academic accreditation as one of the cross-cutting issues of (on?) the conference programme.

In this blog we pose the question: “Could efforts to develop accreditation standards in other areas of health workforce education and training, help guide and inform similar work on social accountability?”

Why might this approach be mutually supportive?

WHO Global Strategy on Human Resources of Health has a dedicated milestone that by 2020 – All countries have established accreditation mechanisms for health training institutions.

This milestone presents opportunities for stakeholders working on accreditation in health workforce education and training to place their efforts in a broader context, and to explore common areas of interest.

Such a coordinated and collaborative approach could ensure, for example,  that in developing individual standards for social accountability, interprofessional education or social determinants of health, synergies are created between and across accreditation standards, as well as accreditation mechanisms for different health workforce cadres / occupations.

Photo Adobe; gemeinsam stark by Vege

 In this blog we profile the work on the accreditation of interprofessional education for person centred practice in Canada, through the development of Principles proposed to guide the development and implementation of IPE Standards to be applied in accreditation programs across a diversity of health professions/occupations

THEnet Communities of Practice forum will take the discussions forward by addressing the following questions:

  • could efforts to develop accreditation standards in other areas of health workforce education and training help guide and inform similar work on social accountability?
  • are their similarities with ongoing work within social accountability, in terms of using principles to guide the development and implementation of IPE standards in accreditation programs.

 2.o IPE and accreditation – A Canadian perspective

The following information is acknowledged as being drawn from: “Accreditation of interprofessional health education (AIPHE): Principles and practices for integrating interprofessional education into the accreditation standards for six health professions in Canada.” (https://www.cihc.ca/aiphe/about)

Interprofessional education (IPE) is increasingly important in health professional education. It is an educational approach that helps to prepare the future health and human service workforce for interprofessional collaboration. Working together more effectively across professions and inclusion of the patient/person/family at the centre of care are both critical for mitigating health human resource shortages and for improving patient safety. (“Framework for Action on Interprofessional Education & Collaborative Practice” (WHO, 2010)).

To help to ensure that interprofessional education (IPE) is embedded in health and human service education programs in Canada, Health Canada funded six professions (medicine, nursing, pharmacy, physical therapy, occupational therapy, and social work) representing eight accreditation bodies to work together to address interprofessional education in accreditation standards.

The following Principles are proposed to guide the development and implementation of IPE standards in accreditation programs for health and human service/social care professional education.

  • The patient/person/family is the central focus of effective interprofessional collaborative practice and, therefore, of effective interprofessional education.
  • To educate collaborative practitioners, interprofessional education is an integral component of education for all health and human service/social care professions.
  • Interprofessional education is most effective when integrated explicitly into classroom and practice contexts and underlies both teaching and learning in both contexts.
  • Core competencies for collaborative practice are used to inform health and human service/social care interprofessional curricula in Canada. (A National Interprofessional Competency Framework) (CIHC, Feb 2010)
  • Interprofessional education embraces a relationship-centred approach as one of the key pillars of successful interprofessional collaborative practice.
  • Interprofessional education requires active engagement of students across the professions in meaningful and relevant collaborative practice.
  • Flexibility in the integration of IPE into health and human service/social care curricula facilitates the development of accreditation standards that are consistent with the profession’s accreditation process and the diverse educational models across the country.
  • Accreditation as one quality monitoring process for education, and regulation (licensing) as the quality control process for practice, must provide consistent messages about interprofessional education and collaborative practice.
  • Emerging evidence is used to guide interprofessional education in all health and human service/social care program curricula.
  • Required support structures for interprofessional education should be considered in all aspects of accreditation including institutional commitment, curriculum, resources, program evaluation, faculty and students.
  • Collaborative learning is integrated along the continuum of health professional education.
  • Specific knowledge, skills and attitudes are required for effective interprofessional collaboration and these are reflected in IPE curricula.

These Principles provide the overarching direction for the development of accreditation standards that incorporate IPE. Accreditation standards for IPE may be new standards in an accreditation program or existing standards may be adapted to reflect interprofessional education. AIPHE, through the Canadian Interprofessional Health Collaborative, provides examples of Standards and Evidence for their use. (https://www.cihc.ca/aiphe/standards)

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