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Acad Med. 2006 Oct;81(10):891-6.

Working across the boundaries of health professions disciplines in education, research, and service: the University of Washington experience.

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University of Washington School of Nursing, Center for Health Sciences Interprofessional Education, Seattle, Washington 98195-7266, USA.


The Institute of Medicine's vision for health professions education specifies working together across professions and schools to provide patient-centered care. Improvement in collaborative preparation of health professionals is seen as central to achieving substantial improvement in the quality of health care. In this article, the authors address one central question: How can medical schools work with other health-sciences schools to promote their educational, research, and service missions? The authors summarize the history of the University of Washington (UW) Health Sciences Center in promoting interprofessional collaboration in education, service and research; analyze the key strategic, structural, cultural and technical elements that have promoted success or served as barriers in the development of the UW Center for Health Sciences Interprofessional Education and Research; and suggest strategies that may be transferable to other institutions seeking to implement an interprofessional health sciences program. These include both top-down and bottom-up authority and function in key working groups, institutional policies such as interprofessional course numbers and shared indirect costs, and development of a culture of interprofessionalism among faculty and students across program boundaries.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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