At the recent Alliance for Continuing Education in the Healthcare Professions conference in San Francisco, there were numerous workshops about the importance of interprofessional education. Each session heralded the successes of educating a blended audience of physicians, nurses, and pharmacists; however, most were led by CME professionals who work within a closed hospital/healthcare system. How can medical education companies and other CME/continuing education providers, especially those whose activities tackle a variety of therapeutic areas outside of primary care, implement more effective activities for a multidisciplinary audience? Let’s consider some strategies.

Multiple Audiences, Similar Needs
When the content of interprofessional CE activities consists of a static curriculum presented by only one type of healthcare professional, it presents some challenges for the learners. One or more of the audience types can become disengaged from the activity if they feel the subject matter is above/below their expertise or doesn’t address specific issues they face. Potential learners might see a one-size-fits-all agenda and think, “What’s in it for me?”

Every provider should approach these unique activities with that question in mind. The needs, gaps, and learning objectives may or may not be specific to each type of healthcare provider in the audience, so look for the commonalities. Specify the learning objectives and intended outcomes for each type of audience member as well as those that might overlap for the group as a whole. This will make it clear to all audience members that you’ve appropriately researched their distinctive educational needs and practice gaps.

Choosing a Variety of Educational Formats

Using a standalone meeting to educate a blended audience may not meet every learner’s needs. While having faculty presenters who are representative of the audience members’ various professions is critical, CME/CE providers sometimes overlook other potential issues when using an all-encompassing educational setting. For example, some learners may feel intimidated when in a mixed audience, and it can be difficult to manage question-and-answer sessions from a diverse group of participants without alienating any of them. Providers might consider conducting a series of live meetings for physicians, then providing related case-based Internet enduring material for nurses, along with some downloadable print resources for pharmacists.

This allows each HCP to engage in the peer-directed content in a variety of settings. Work with your faculty experts to ensure that each activity is tailored to its audience, not simply a “light” version of the content that was clearly designed just for physicians. Provide information about how to participate in each particular activity in marketing materials and in the activities themselves. In essence, facilitate the creation of a multidisciplinary community of practice.

Measuring the Outcomes
One of the challenges providers face is obtaining funding for activities that educate a variety of healthcare professionals. Having higher levels of outcomes (Moore Levels 4, 5, or 6) can help improve those statistics. Providers should be prepared to show the linkage between the needs, gaps, and outcomes, and also highlight the similarities and differences in the outcomes based on each type of audience member. Use practitioner-specific case studies and outcomes questions, and follow-up data that validate the need for interprofessional education by demonstrating that it is effective for every learner. If performance and/or patient health improvements resulted, showcase them.

As our national healthcare initiative goes into effect, let’s continue exploring innovative methods that all provider types can use to engage and empower the growing team of professionals involved in patient care.  

Ann C. Lichti, CCMEP, is the director of accreditation and compliance for Physicians’ Education Resource®, LLC (PER). Reach her at alichti@gotoper.com. The opinions expressed are those of the author and do not constitute the views of PER.