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J Dent Educ. 2006 Apr;70(4):417-27.

A preliminary survey of interprofessional education.

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Department of Cariology, Restorative Sciences, and Endodontics, University of Michigan, USA.


The purpose of this article is to review the literature on interprofessional education (IPE) and report on a preliminary survey of the current status of interprofessional education in seven academic health centers (AHCs) that have schools of dentistry associated with them. There is wide variability in interpretation of the term "interprofessional," and many barriers to interprofessional education exist including already overcrowded curricula in health professions schools, lack of support from faculty and administration, and financial constraints. Based on interviews completed at the authors' home institutions, it was recommended that topics such as ethics, communication skills, evidence-based practice, and informatics could be effectively taught in an interprofessional manner. Currently, some academic health centers are attempting to develop interprofessional education programs, but most of these efforts do not include dental students. Of the seven AHCs investigated in this study, only two had formal interprofessional educational activities that involved students from two or more health professions education programs. Dental school participants in this study professed a strong interest in interprofessional programs, but many interviewees from other professional schools and AHC administrators perceived that the dental school was isolated from other schools and disinterested in IPE. Many health care setting models in the future will include dentists as part of an interdisciplinary health care team; consequently, it is important for dental schools to become an active participant in future interprofessional educational initiatives.

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