An Interprofessional Education History Lesson

By Bethany Robertson (@bdrclo)

With the passing of 2020, as with most new years, it is a time to reflect on the past and look towards the future.  While for some, the idea of reflecting on 2020 might be repulsive, I myself will take a different approach.  Instead of a 12-month look back, I invite us to do a personal reflective journey on our engagement in Interprofessional Education (IPE) and perhaps, through this historical journey we will emerge with a sense of our direction for 2021.  I’d like to take the next three blogs in this series to discuss SOME of the history, my personal journey, and where I see IPE fitting for me (and IPE’ers) in the future. 

In full disclosure, I live in the United States, and as such, have this view—limited!  I am aware that our Canadian colleagues have been light years ahead of us on this subject. So far in my work I have not given much credence to ‘history’ as I am far too obsessed with what is happening now and in the future.  But recently, I was introduced to IPE history that is well worth pausing to review.

In 2020, I was privileged to have become part of the scholarship committee for the American Interprofessional Health Collaborative.  AIHC is the membership arm of the National Center for Interprofessional Practice and EducationsAIHC aims to “transcend boundaries to transform learning, policies, practices, and scholarship toward an improved system of health and wellness for individual patients, communities, and populations. It believes educating those entrusted with the health of individuals, communities, and populations to value and respect each other’s unique expertise and skills and to work together is fundamental to care that is effective, safe, of high quality, and efficient in terms of cost, resources, and time.”

As a committee member, I was introduced to the work of Bud Baldwin. He is a pioneering researcher and educator in the field of Interprofessional health care education and collaborative practice for more than 60 years.  Luckily, Bud saved everything, and Barbara Brandt, the National Center’s Director also renowned for her work in IPE , is actively leading the commission to archiving these papers in partnership with the University of Minnesota. 

As a committee member on AIHC scholarship committee, I will be involved in supporting this work a member of the advisory committee. There are numerous steps involved in signing over one’s body of work to another organization.  An oversight committee will be established to create policies and procedures related to management of the historic documents. This is foundations work not only for Bud Baldwin’s papers but it provides a mechanism by which other individuals and organizations can add to the archives, documenting their early work in IPE.  Without a collective repository, history will be lost and lessons won’t be learned.

So apparently, IPE has a very long and somewhat well documented history in the United States.  There are several notable “mothers” and “fathers” of IPE that dedicated their life’s work to inter-professional practice and education; Bud of course, who was already mentioned, but also Madeline Schmitt (who I was lucky enough to meet early in my IPE career journey but she would never remember me) and John Gilbert are all icons in the IPE work.  They all worked tirelessly and separately in building a body of research related to IPE.  As noted in the link below “While Bud the physician, and Mattie the nurse sociologist, collaborated off and on since 1981, their colleague, John was building the College of Health Disciplines and the IPE program with his colleagues at the University of British Columbia”.  All have had editorial roles on the Journal of Interprofessional Care, today’s premier IPECP academic journal.  All three were awarded the Nexus Summit Pioneer Award in 2017.   In fact, if you click the link, you will read the story of how these three individuals, with the help of Barbara, started the first Collaboration Across Boarders (CAB) meeting that drew 300 people the very first year; representing a tangible collaboration with our Canadian friends.  CAB was a visible representation of two countries reflecting on the growth of IPE, noted a need for it’s a young field searching for its own unique forum in which to showcase the continuing development of interprofessional education for collaborative person centered practice and care, in a continuing series of conferences was needed. 

And so the international bridge was built…..and a seeds for history were sown and the roots began to take hold

In the next blog, I will share a bit of my “history” with IPE and how my reflection has catalyzed my focus for the future.

Don’t miss the second post in the series, coming out Tuesday, March 30, 2021!

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