Pre-Certification Interprofessional Education: Ideal vs. Reality Patient Safety Curriculum

Edward E. Ward


Watershed events at the turn of the millennium brought international attention to profound breaches in patient safety due to medical error, prompting an outcry for a collaborative focus on medical education to eliminate similar future events. Researchers suggested almost two decades ago that exposure to teachings on medical error prevention and patient safety should happen early in student training, not merely in post-certification coursework. Nevertheless, medical errors continue to increase. This study investigates the priority given to error prevention and patient safety in current interprofessional education (IPE) curricula of pre-certified learners. This qualitative investigation was sequential in two phases. Phase one consisted of content analysis of a keyword search on IPE curricula of eleven medical teaching institutions (2005-2015) to determine the frequency of IPEassociated terminology/variables. Analysis of the findings shows how infrequently IPE curricula expose pre-licensed students to concepts of patient safety. Patient safety appeared on 2.60% of IPE websites communications and 4.30% of the time was embedded within the concept of teamwork. Phase two of this qualitative investigation included interviews with six IPE practitioners regarding their perspectives on precertification education, patient safety, and medical error prevention. Through guided interviews, phase two exposed the perspectives of IPE pre-certification professionals regarding patient safety curricula. The participants revealed uncertainty regarding time allocated to teach patient safety, the resources available to teach patient safety, patient safety embedded in other courses, and that there were no existing barriers to teaching patient safety. The research revealed that the importance of patient safety and medical error prevention was less than the importance of other topics during pre-certification medical training.