The World Health Organization defines interprofessional collaborative practice (IPCP) as when multiple health workers from different professional backgrounds provide comprehensive health services working with patients/clients, families, caregivers, and communities to deliver quality health care across settings. IPCP has long been considered a best practice model to improve effective health-care delivery; however, implementation of collaborative practice models and evidence to support their efficacy have been relatively slow to develop. IPCP is inextricably linked to interprofessional education and practice (IPEP), which brings together students and practitioners across disciplines and practices, and includes direct care workforce, people/patients/clients, families, and communities to learn with, from, and about each other to prepare them for integrated workplace practice. The article will explore national and global interprofessional collaborative practice initiatives; outline core competencies and evidence for collaborative practice; provide examples of IPCP implementation; and discuss the role social work plays in the development and leadership of collaborative practice.
Shelley Cohen Konrad
Social workers are uniquely prepared to benefit from and provide cross-boundary leadership for several kinds of collaborative practice. Examples include teamwork, new practice relationships with service users, inter-organizational partnerships, and community-wide coalitions structured for collective impact. All are needed to respond to adaptive problems without easy answers, and to dilemma-rich, “wicked” problems. Among the family of “c-words” (for example, communication, coordination), collaboration is the most difficult to develop, institutionalize, and sustain because it requires explicit recognition of, and new provisions for, interdependent relationships among participants. Notwithstanding the attendant challenges, collaborative practice increasingly is a requirement in multiple sectors of social work practice, including mental health, substance abuse, school social work, complex, anti-poverty initiatives, international social work, workforce development, and research. New working relationships with service users connect collaborative practice with empowerment theory and serve as a distinctive feature of social work practice.
Michael A. Patchner and Lisa S. Patchner
The complicated nature of illness and health care delivery along with the complexity of insurance and health policy demand team-based health care. As a consequence, social workers have become engaged in team-based health care with numerous other professionals within multiple settings. Through the engagement of client-centered practice social workers experience systems that weigh the provision of direct services against macro quantitative accountability. This has resulted in newly defined roles and expectations for social workers who are well trained for both micro and macro practice. In multiple health care settings, social workers are partners in team-based models of care where patient-centered practice is a component within larger public and private delivery systems.
The concept of health profession centrism and its effects on interprofessional education is important to Social Work practice. Profession centrism is concerned with a student’s professional socialization and their ability to work effectively with other health professionals and clients. This cultural frame determines the salience of curriculum content, core values, practice rituals and customs. It determines the meaning and etiology of symptoms and what constitutes health and treatment success. The interprofessional education (IPE) agenda is often seen as “soft curriculum” content and put to the side for the rigors of health sciences. Paradoxically, it is these issues of communication, ethics, role definition, and working as a team that creates problems among health professionals which compromise safety and efficiency in patient/client care. Learning to minimize profession centrism is a critical education and training objective for health social workers.