Accreditation of Interprofessional Health Education (AIPHE)

The accreditation of programs in health professional education is a long-standing tradition in North America. Accreditation has been defined by the Association of Accrediting Agencies of Canada as a process to determine and to certify the achievement and maintenance of reasonable and appropriate national standards of education for professionals. Academic accreditation processes have been linked to the continuous improvement of curricula and programs in the health professions, and have been identified as a pivotal agent for change related to systematic integration of inter-professional education in health professions education.

In early 2007, Health Canada contracted the Association of Faculties of Medicine of Canada (AFMC) to plan and host a consultation with key stakeholders and experts to explore ways to integrate Inter-professional Education for Collaborative Patient-Centred Practice (IECPCP) into the various health professional education accreditation processes. IECPCP across all health care sectors is considered to be a vital component of the Pan-Canadian Health Human Resource Strategy. The objective of the project was to propose a strategy and work plan to explore and encourage the development, through collaboration and consensus of accrediting bodies and other key stakeholders, of core joint principles for accrediting inter-professional education in health professional education programs at the pre-licensure level. They would then be more encouraged to adopt and/or adapt the principles into their accreditation standards. Twenty individuals including educators and representatives of professional associations and accreditation bodies in five health disciplines, as well as experts in inter-professional education and in accreditation, participated in the consultation prior to Phase 1. The result was a clear commitment to collaborate in the development of core joint principles for accreditation of inter-professional education and to this end the group drafted a proposal for the initiative, Accreditation of Inter-professional Health Education (AIPHE).

Phase 1

The first phase of the AIPHE initiative was a 20-month (2007-2009) partnership of eight national organizations that accredit pre-licensure education for six health professions in Canada. The goal of this collaboration was to create and support the use of core joint principles/guidelines in formulating standards for inter-professional education. The Partnership, representing the disciplines of physical therapy, occupational therapy, pharmacy, social work, nursing and medicine, consulted with a wider range of stakeholders to develop principles/ guidelines for use in formulating standards for their organizations and promoting their use among other stakeholders. The partnership also shared knowledge about the value of inter-professional education and best practices in program accreditation review processes. The main project activities were: an environmental scan (comprising a literature review, key stakeholder interviews and a background paper), two joint Steering Committee-Advisory Group meetings and a Forum on Accreditation of Inter-professional Education to begin dissemination of the AIPHE Principles and Implementation Guide.

Phase 2

Beginning in May 2010, Health Canada contributed towards an 11-month implementation phase for the AIPHE initiative. In this phase of the project, each of the same eight partner organizations was involved in a range of activities that included developing an Interprofessional Health Education Accreditation Standards Guide that provides examples of standards language for IPE, context for the standards, criteria for types of evidence that may help determine if a standard is being met, and examples for assessing the quality of that evidence. In addition to working on implementing IPE standards in their own accreditation programs, the AIPHE partner organizations and the AIPHE Steering Committee held a national Key Stakeholders Gathering to gather feedback on the draft Guide from regulatory bodies, national and provincial health and education policy makers or government, clinical managers, educators and national health professional associations representing the six health professions involved, and a Knowledge Exchange Workshop with representatives of accrediting organizations of 26 other health professions.

AIPHE has, and will continue to facilitate collaboration among the eight participating accrediting organizations to ensure a common approach to the IPE accreditation standards and to share lessons learned along the way. Please see the Resources section of this site to find materials produced by AIPHE; and visit the Partners & Project Participants section if you’d like to know who has been involved in AIPHE to date.