The doctor dilemma in interprofessional education and care: how and why will physicians collaborate?

Med Educ. 2007 Oct;41(10):1010-6. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2923.2007.02893.x.


Context: Interprofessional educational (IPE) initiatives are seen as a means to engage health care professionals in collaborative patient-centred care. Given the hierarchical nature of many clinical settings, it is important to examine how the aims of formal IPE courses intersect with the socialisation of medical students into roles of responsibility and authority.

Objectives: This article aims to provide an overview of doctor barriers to collaboration and describe aspects of medical education and socialisation that may limit doctor engagement in the goals of interprofessional education. Additionally, the paper examines the nature of team function in the health care system, reviewing different conceptual models to propose a spectrum of collaborative possibilities. Finally, specific suggestions are offered to increase the impact of interprofessional education programmes in medical education.

Discussion: An acknowledgement of power differentials between health care providers is necessary in the development of models for shared responsibility between professions. Conceptual models of teamwork and collaboration must articulate the desired nature of interaction between professionals with different degrees of responsibility and authority. Educational programmes in areas such as professionalism and ethics have shown limited success when formal and informal curricula significantly diverge. The socialisation of medical students into the role of a responsible doctor must be balanced with training to share responsibility appropriately. Doctor collaborative capacity may be enhanced by programmes designed to develop particular skills for which there is evidence of improved patient outcomes.

MeSH terms

  • Attitude of Health Personnel*
  • Clinical Competence / standards
  • Decision Making
  • Education, Medical*
  • Humans
  • Interprofessional Relations*
  • Patient-Centered Care
  • Physicians
  • Socialization*