Addressing the Irreducible Needs of Interprofessional Education: Creating and Sustaining an Institutional Commons for Health Professions Training

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Leaders in health professions education schools and programs are under pressure to respond to new accreditation requirements for interprofessional education (IPE). The work of creating and sustaining an IPE program at an academic health center is in many ways analogous to the challenge of creating and sustaining a “commons”—a set of resources shared by many, but owned by none. In this Commentary, the authors borrow from the work of Nobel Laureate Elinor Ostrum to describe the “design principles” necessary to build and maintain the set of common resources needed to successfully implement and sustain an IPE program. They interpret these principles in the context of their own experiences implementing IPE programs and recommend three institutional structural elements necessary to build and sustain an IPE program: (1) a representative governance body, (2) an accountable director or leader, and (3) a structure supporting vertical and horizontal communication and authority.

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