These days, healthcare professionals would have heard the acronyms, “IPE” and “IPCP” being mentioned with increasing frequency. But do we really know what IPE and IPCP mean, and how can they impact patient care? The SingHealth Duke-NUS IPCP Taskforce breaks down these two buzzwords, explaining why collaborative practice in healthcare is essential and how education can play a part.

What? How? Why?

First off, we look at what Interprofessional Education (IPE) and Interprofessional Collaborative Practice (IPCP) are: two distinct but inter-related concepts; one of which serves as the means to the end.

  • IPE refers to the process by which two or more healthcare professions learn with, from and about one another in order to achieve IPCP. 
  • IPCP refers to the delivery of patient care by multiple healthcare professionals working effectively together as a team.

IPCP is critical for tomorrow’s (and today’s) healthcare as patient care grows increasingly complex, requiring the expertise and knowledge of an interprofessional healthcare team. Advancements in healthcare also necessitate different healthcare professionals bringing their specific expertise to the table, so as to tailor and contextualise care to each individual patient.   


Is It Really That Straightforward?

One might assume that IPE would automatically result in IPCP. In reality, IPCP is influenced by multiple factors – not all of which are even fully understood to this day. Research and scholarly enquiry continue to reveal what facilitates or inhibits IPCP and suggest possible measures to optimise IPCP in a healthcare setting. This reminds us that IPCP is not easy to attain.

If IPCP is a jigsaw puzzle, then IPE forms one of the pieces of this complicated puzzle – and a key one at that. Through IPE and the use of frameworks, we can equip individuals and teams with skills essential to foster IPCP. These include care models, competency frameworks, pedagogy, patient safety and quality improvement, and systems thinking. Most importantly, IPE develops a deeper understanding among the different professions of one anothers’ roles, expertise and skills, and translates that to better collaborative patient care.


Are You Doing It Right?

We know that IPE is crucial and by all purposes, useful in fostering IPCP. But are we doing it right? In order to get the most out of IPE, we look at some misconceptions that may hinder our IPE activities:

  1. IPE needs to start early, but also continued throughout professional practice.
    Ideally, IPE should start early in the professional training of young healthcare professionals, so that there is awareness of the issues affecting collaborative practice. However, IPE efforts need to continue with practicing healthcare professionals. Education, including IPE, is a life-long process. Healthcare professionals across all seniorities need to continue to build their abilities to work collaboratively in healthcare teams so that it becomes an ingrained part of their practice.  

  2. IPE requires interaction among the different professions.
    IPE is not about simply teaching a topic with different healthcare professionals together in a physical (or virtual) location. IPE involves ‘learning with, about and from one another’, emphasising the importance of interaction through social learning and communities of practice. Elements of discussion or practice should be encouraged, facilitating active interprofessional learning.  

  3. IPE can be taught with existing frameworks, but tailored to the local context.
    The principles and elements of IPE are universal. But if we want to make it more effective, we need to contextualise the method of teaching and its application to our local clinical practice prudently. Understanding our healthcare system and aligning the goals of IPE and IPC to the priorities of the nation also makes IPE more relevant to healthcare professionals on the ground. Incorporating factors such as local time, space and manpower constraints, as well as commonly experienced communication lapses, can shape the way we carry out our IPE activities for the better.  


How Can You Get Involved in IPE?

The process of achieving IPCP will be a long journey, but one that requires the collaborative effort and teamwork of healthcare educators on the ground. Here’s how you can get involved:

  • Incorporate IPE into your teaching.
    Download the IPE 101 Toolkit here (SingHealth Infopedia) to help you get started.

  • Join the discussion!
    Brainstorm and share ideas with our IPCP Taskforce at


IPE is one of the five key strategic thrusts under the SingHealth Duke-NUS Education Masterplan (FY2021-2025) towards our relentless pursuit of education excellence.