The case for educating health care students in professionalism as the core content of interprofessional education

Med Educ. 2005 May;39(5):456-64. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2929.2005.02116.x.


Background: Professional teams are becoming more central to health care as evidence emerges that effective teamwork enhances the quality of patient care. Currently, health care professionals are poorly prepared by their education for their roles on the team. In parallel, there are increasing demands from consumers for health care professionals to serve the interests of society and patients through engaging in effective professional partnerships. Professionalism for health care providers is now being defined as a commitment to standards of excellence in the practice of the profession that are designed primarily to serve the interests of the patient and to be responsive to the health needs of society. Yet, there are multiple barriers impeding the development of professionalism beyond a uni-professional frame of reference.

Method: Incorporating teamwork and professionalism into health care professional curricula at pre-registration level is proving to be challenging. These 2 areas of learning are brought together in this paper through a discussion of the role of interprofessional education in preparing all health care professional students for the workforce.

Conclusion: Interprofessionalism is presented as a pre-registration curriculum framework that includes values shared by all health care professionals, which should be learned in order to more adequately prepare students for working in health care teams. It will be argued that interprofessional education provides appropriate methods by which to learn interprofessionalism, and that this will ultimately contribute to overcoming uni-professional exclusivity.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Curriculum*
  • Health Personnel / education*
  • Humans
  • Interprofessional Relations*
  • Professional Competence / standards*
  • Students, Health Occupations*