Interdisciplinary education and teamwork: a long and winding road

Med Educ. 2001 Sep;35(9):867-75. doi: 10.1046/j.1365-2923.2001.00919.x.


Purpose: This article examines literature on interdisciplinary education and teamwork in health care, to discover the major issues and best practices.

Methods: A literature review of mainly North American articles using search terms such as interdisciplinary, interprofessional, multidisciplinary with medical education.

Main findings: Two issues are emerging in health care as clinicians face the complexities of current patient care: the need for specialized health professionals, and the need for these professionals to collaborate. Interdisciplinary health care teams with members from many professions answer the call by working together, collaborating and communicating closely to optimize patient care. Education on how to function within a team is essential if the endeavour is to succeed. Two main categories of issues emerged: those related to the medical education system and those related to the content of the education.

Conclusions: Much of the literature pertained to programme evaluations of academic activities, and did not compare interdisciplinary education with traditional methods. Many questions about when to educate, who to educate and how to educate remain unanswered and open to future research.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Communication
  • Education, Medical / methods*
  • Faculty
  • Group Processes
  • Humans
  • Interprofessional Relations*
  • Patient Care Team / organization & administration
  • Patient Care Team / standards
  • Professional Practice / standards
  • Quality of Health Care
  • Social Support
  • Teaching / methods