Untying the Interprofessional Gordian Knot: The National Collaborative for Improving the Clinical Learning Environment

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The National Collaborative for Improving the Clinical Learning Environment (NCICLE) is a growing group of over 40 organizations representing a variety of health professions. NCICLE is beginning a discussion of issues related to culture in health care, specifically how the current culture inhibits optimal outcomes, and the discordance between current early interprofessional education (IPE) curricula in health professions schools and traditional practice models in health care. In October 2017, the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education and the Josiah Macy Jr. Foundation sponsored an NCICLE symposium on optimizing interprofessional clinical learning environments. In this Invited Commentary, the authors observe that interprofessional practice and education is a decades-long field that has presented a “Gordian knot” of intractable, complex problems to solve because medicine has often not been at the table for conversations about IPE. The NCICLE symposium represented an important opportunity for medicine to signal that finding new solutions for unraveling the interprofessional Gordian knot and creating optimal clinical learning environments requires meaningful participation from all health professions. Those solutions need to build on the long history of experience and research in IPE and collaborative practice. After the NCICLE symposium provided a promising beginning, the authors propose three essential issues and one key practical step forward to move the interprofessional agenda forward.

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