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Why multidisciplinary delivery is important to us


Juliette Phillipson - 2024

Healthcare fundamentally relies on teamwork. Whether it involves prevention, treatment, or ongoing management of illnesses and injuries, a diverse network of professionals must collaborate to deliver optimal health outcomes. Recognition of the importance of interprofessional teamwork is growing due to the rise of non-communicable diseases, the adoption of a more holistic approach to care, and the increasing complexity of healthcare environments. The care of a single patient often involves a comprehensive team of multidisciplinary professionals—including social workers, nurses, therapists, doctors, counsellors, managers, and administrators. Together, they must collaborate and communicate effectively to provide a cohesive and efficient health service. Despite this, medical education has been slow in adopting a interprofessional or team-based approach to education (Frenk et al., 2010).

In 2010, the Lancet Comission report made a series of recommendations to improve health systems performance. One of these was to “promote interprofessional and transprofessional education that breaks down professional silos while enhancing collaborative and nonhierarchical relationships in effective teams” (Frenk et al., 2010). Several more recent reviews have supported this recommendation, demonstrating that increased interprofessional collaboration in healthcare produces favourable clinical outcomes such as increased quality of care, better care continuity, improved patient satisfaction, team functioning, and job satisfaction among healthcare professionals (Geese  & Schmitt, 2023; House et al., 2022; Reeves et al., 2017).

These recommendations are reflected in the increasing body of research supporting multidisciplinary cohorts in leadership development programmes  (Bornman  & Louw, 2023; Careau et al., 2014; Debets et al., 2023; Evans et al.,  2023; Frich & Spehar, 2018). In 2023, Debets et al published a systematic review focusing on organisational outcomes of leadership programmes. They found that multidisciplinary networking within programmes benefitted organisational culture, quality improvement, and the leadership pipeline (Debets et al., 2023). Interprofessional education also has the potential to improve teamwork, respect, job satisfaction, cultural competence and patient outcomes.

Although simple in concept, interprofessional education can be difficult to implement due to funding issues, divided faculty, hyperspecialisation of some professionals, and overly rigid accreditation standards that restrict opportunities for collaboration.

In our own experience with the ELP, we have found that the multidiscplinary nature of the course is highly valued by participants. When asked to rate the importance of programme components, the multidisciplinary cohort is the component which is most commonly rated as essential. The following quotes are from ELP participants:

“It's been fantastic to work with members of different backgrounds/specialties, and make the most of each person's strengths.”

“I think it is amazing that the course is so multi disciplinary and I think it is such a strong course for that reason.”


Bornman, J., & Louw, B. (2023). Leadership Development Strategies in Interprofessional Healthcare Collaboration: A Rapid Review. Journal of Healthcare Leadership, Volume 15, 175–192.

Careau, E., Biba, G., Brander, R., Van Dijk, J. P., Verma, S., Paterson, M., & Tassone, M. (2014). Health leadership education programs, best practices, and impact on learners' knowledge, skills, attitudes, and behaviors and system change: a literature review. Journal of Healthcare Leadership, 6, 39–50.

Debets, M., Jansen, I., Lombarts, K., Kuijer-Siebelink, W., Kruijthof, K., Steinert, Y., Daams, J., & Silkens, M. (2023). RESEARCH Open Access Linking leadership development programs for physicians with organization-level outcomes: a realist review. BMC Health Services Research, 23, 783.

Evans, M. A., James, E. J., & Misa Mi. (2023). Leadership Training in Undergraduate Medical Education: A Systematic Review [Article]. International Journal of Medical Students, 11(1), 58–66.

Frenk, J., Chen, L., Bhutta, Z. A., Cohen, J., Crisp, N., Evans, T., Fineberg, H., Garcia, P., Ke, Y., Kelley, P., Kistnasamy, B., Meleis, A., Naylor, D., Pablos-Mendez, A., Reddy, S., Scrimshaw, S., Sepulveda, J., Serwadda, D., & Zurayk, H. (2010). Health professionals for a new century: Ttransforming education to strengthen health systems in an interdependent world. The Lancet, 376(9756), 1923–1958.

Frich, J. C., & Spehar, I. (2018). Physician leadership development: towards multidisciplinary programs? BMJ Leader, 2(3), 91–94.

Geese, F., & Schmitt, K. U. (2023). Interprofessional Collaboration in Complex Patient Care Transition: A Qualitative Multi-Perspective Analysis. Healthcare 2023, Vol. 11, Page 359, 11(3), 359.

House, S., Wilmoth, M., & Kitzmiller, R. (2022). Relational coordination and staff outcomes among healthcare professionals: a scoping review. Journal of Interprofessional Care, 36(6), 891–899.

Reeves, S., Pelone, F., Harrison, R., Goldman, J., & Zwarenstein, M. (2017). Interprofessional collaboration to improve professional practice and healthcare outcomes. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, 2017(6).

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