• Carin Maree University of Pretoria
  • Heila van Wyk University of Pretoria
Keywords: Interprofessional education, healthcare education, collaborative practice, undergraduate students


Interprofessional education in health has been identified as a strategy to improve collaborative practice in health care. A need to move away from the training of the various professionals in silos has been identified as a mechanism to address the challenges and changes in the healthcare system. The implementation of interprofessional health education in the health disciplines for undergraduate students in order to promote teamwork among professionals and contribute to improved quality health outcomes is, however, complex and challenging to implement.The purpose of this article is to identify how, by whom and when interprofessional health education for undergraduate students could be implemented in the South African context by means of a realist review. Interprofessional health education was explored in both developed and developing countries with the focus mainly on developing countries and South Africa in particular. The framework for action on interprofessional education and collaborative practice developed by the World Health Organisation (2010) was used as a reference.The authors clarified concepts about interprofessional health education, taking into consideration studies about interprofessional education internationally as well as nationally. The intention in this paper is to guide the reader to understand the various measures, context and outcomes associated with the term ‘interprofessional health education’. The measures identified for interprofessional health education involved the following: infrastructure, resources, management, stakeholders’ attitudes, teamwork and educational principles. As far as the context is concerned, this differs from developing and developed countries, since the nature of both the health and education systems of these countries differ. Interprofessional health education should take place in a meaningful and relevant context that reflects current or future trends. The desired outcomes for interprofessional health education should include collaboration among health professionals, thus resulting in improved health care.

Author Biographies

Carin Maree, University of Pretoria
Senior Lecturer, Department of Nursing Science, UP
Heila van Wyk, University of Pretoria
Junior Lecturer, Department of Occupational Therapy, UP


Bridges, D.R., Davidson, R.A., Odegard, P.S., Maki I.V. & Tomkowiak, J. 2011. Interprofessional collaboration: three best practice models of interprofessional education. Medical Education Online.16: (10) 3402/meo.v16i0.6035. PMCID: PMC3081249.

Burch, V. 2014. Editorial: Interprofessional education – is it ‘chakalaka’ medicine?. African Journal of Health Professions Education. 6(1): 2.DOI:10.7196/AJHPE.

Cameron, S., Rutherford, I. & Mountain, K. 2012. Debating the use of work-based learning and interprofessional education in promoting collaborative practice in primary care: a discussion paper. Quality in Primary Care. 20(3): 211-217. PMID: 22828676 [Pubmed – indexed for MEDLINE].

CAIPE (UK Centre for the Advanced Interprofessional Education). 2002. Interprofessional Education – a definition. Viewed 27 August 2014, from

Carpenter, J. 1995. Interprofessional education for medical and nursing students: evaluation of a programme. Medical Education. 29: 265-272.

Clark, P.G. 1993. A typology of multidisciplinary education in gerontology and geriatrics: are we really doing what we say we?. Journal of Interprofessional Care. 7(3): 217-228.

Choi, B.C. & Pak, A.W. 2006. Centre for Chronic Disease Prevention and Control, Public Health Agency of Canada, Ottawa, Ontario. Clinical and Investigative Medicine. Medecine Clinique et Experimentale. 29(6): 351-364.

Cooper, H., Carlisle, C., Gibbs, T. & Watkins, C. 2001. Developing an evidence base for interdisciplinary learning: a systematic review. Journal of Advanced Nursing. 35(2): 228-237.

Duncan, M., Alperstein, M., Mayers, P., Olckers, L., & Gibbs, T. 2006. Not just another multi-professional course! Part 1. Rationale for a transformative curriculum. Medical Teacher. 28(1): 59-63.

Gilbert, J. H., Yan, J. & Hoffman, J. 2010. A WHO report: Framework for action on interprofessional education and collaborative practice. Journal of Allied Health. 39(1): 196-197.

Hammick, M., Freeth, D., Koppel, I., Reeves, S., & Barr, H. 2007. A best evidence systematic review of interprofessional education: BEME Guide no. 9. Medical Teacher. 29(8): 735-51.

Harden, R.M. 1998. AMEE Guide no. 12: multiprofessional education: Part 1-effective multiprofessional education: a three-dimensional perspective. Medical Teacher. 20: 402-8.

Leathard, A. 1994. Going Inter-Professional. Working Together for Health and Welfare. London: Routledge.

Mayers, P., Alperstein, M., Duncan, M., Olckers, L., & Gibbs, T. 2006. Not just another multi-professional course! Part 2: Nuts and bolts of designing a transformed curriculum for multi-professional learning. Medical Teacher. 28(2). 152-157.

Mariano, C. 1989. The case for interdisciplinary collaboration. Nursing Outlook. 37(6): 285.

Neufeldt, V. 1990. Webster’s new world dictionary. New York: Simon & Schuster Inc.

Oandasan, I., & Reeves, S. 2005. Key elements for interprofessional education. Part 1: The learner, the educator and the learning context. Journal of Interprofessional Care. 19(1): 21-38.

Pirrie, A., Wilson, V., Elsegood, J., Hall, J., Hamilton, S., Harden, R., Lee, D. & Stead. 1998. Evaluating multidisciplinary education in health care: Edinburgh: Scottish Council for Research in Education.

Pirrie, A., Hamilton, S. & Wilson, V. 1999. Multidisciplinary education: some issues and concerns. Educational Research. 41(3): 301-14.

Pumar Méndez, M.J., Armayor, N.C., Díaz Navarlaz, M.T. & Wakefield, A. 2008. The potential advantages and disadvantages of introducing interprofessional education into the healthcare curricula in Spain. Nurse Education Today. 28(3): 327-36.

Rawson, D. 1994. Models of interprofessional work. Likely theories and Possibilities in Leathard, A. Going Interprofessional. Working Together for Health and Welfare. London: Routledge.

Rossen, E.K., Bartlett, R. & Herrick, C.A. 2008. Interdisciplinary collaboration: The need to revisit. Issues in Mental Health Nursing. 29(4): 387-96.

Staffan, P., Kalen, A., Hammar, M. & Wahlström, O. 2011. Preparation for becoming members of health care teams: findings from a 5-year evaluation of a student interprofessional training ward. Journal of Interprofessional Care. 25(5): 328-332.

Tomoko, H., Shinozaki, H., Makino, T. Ogawara, H., Yasuyoshi, A., Iwasaki, K., Matsuda, T., Abe, Y., Tozato, F., Koizumi, M., Yasukawa, A., Lee, B., Hayashi, K. & Watanabe, H. 2012. Changes in attitudes toward interprofessional health care teams and education in the first-and third-year undergraduate students. Journal of Interprofessional Care. 26(2): 100-107.

Treadwell, I. & Havenga, H.S. 2013. Ten key elements for implementing interprofessional learning in clinical simulations. African Journal of Health Professions Education. 5(2): 80-83. DOI:10.7196/AJHPE.233.

Waggie, F. & Laattoe, N. 2014. Interprofessional exemplars for health professional programmes at a South African university. Journal of Interprofessional Care. 28(4): 368-370. DOI:10.3109/13561820.2014.891572. Epub 2014 Feb 25.

Wagner, J., Liston, B., & Miller J. 2011. Developing interprofessional communication skills. Teaching and Learning in Nursing Skills. 6(3): 97-101.

WHO Health Professions Network Nursing and Midwifery office, Department of Human Resources for Health. 2010. Framework for action on interprofessional education and collaborative practice.

Wilhelmsson, M., W., Pelling, S., Ludvigsson, J., Hammar, M., Dahlgren, L. & Faresjö, T. 2009. Twenty years experiences of interprofessional education in Linköping-ground-breaking and sustainable. Journal of Interprofessional Care. 23(2): 121-133.

Williams, B., Brown, T., McCook F., Boyle M., Palermo C., Molloy A., McKenna L., Scholes, R, French, J. & McCall L. 2011. A pilot study evaluating an interprofessional education workshop for undergraduate health care students. Journal of Interprofessional Care. 25(3): 215-7.

Wilmot, S. 1995. Professional values and interprofessional dialogue. Journal of Interprofessional Care. 9(3): 257-65.

Wilson, V., Pirrie, A. 2000. Multidisciplinary teamworking: beyond the barriers?: A review of the issues: Edinburgh: SCRE.