Four Major Foundations Join Together To Advance Interprofessional Health Education to Improve Patient Care and Foster Team-Based Learning

    • June 4, 2012

Four leading foundations focused on health, health professions education, and patient care, today announced they will support the creation of a new national Center for Interprofessional Education and Collaborative Practice. The Josiah Macy Jr. Foundation, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF), the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, and The John A. Hartford Foundation have collectively committed up to $8.6 million in grants over five years to support and guide the Center, which will work to accelerate team work and collaboration among doctors, nurses and other health professionals— as well as patients—and break down the traditional silo-approach to health professions education.

The foundations’ commitment follows an announcement last week by the U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) to create such a center. Once HRSA makes its decision on where the Center will be housed and who will direct it, the four foundations are committed to work with the Center and its director to determine the best use of the foundations’ grant money. The foundations seek to help the Center become the “go to” coordinating and connecting body for efforts to promote interprofessional education and collaborative practice; convene key education, health and policy stakeholders; identify and disseminate best practices and lessons learned; and develop and evaluate interprofessional education programs.

Interprofessional education provides health professionals with the competencies they need to effectively deliver care as part of a team. Traditional models of health professions education emphasize mastery of skills within individual professions and give relatively little attention to how those skills will be used by members of real life teams. But health care workers need to understand the capabilities and limitations of other professionals, and have a common language and set of skills, to effectively coordinate and deliver team-based care.

"We know that health care delivered in teams is better health care," said George Thibault, MD, president of the Josiah Macy Jr. Foundation. “But we will never be able to change the delivery system until we change how health professionals are educated. We are excited to help facilitate a center like this, which we believe will take interprofessional education and practice to a critical new level.”

There has been a growing interest in interprofessional activities across the country in recent years, with medical, nursing, public health, dentistry, pharmacy and other health professions schools forging new partnerships. Among them are more than a dozen Macy Foundation grantees who are working together to reform curricula and pedagogy, and make team-based, collaborative education a priority and a core part of how the next generation of health professionals learn. Last year, Macy joined with RWJF, HRSA and the American Board of Internal Medicine Foundation (ABIM Foundation) to work with a broad array of health professions groups to promote a set of core competencies for interprofessional education developed by the Interprofessional Education Collaborative (IPEC), a group of six health professions associations.

The implementation of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act along with the evolution of accountable care organizations, medical homes, and other new models of care have injected new energy and enthusiasm in interprofessional models of education and practice to improve quality, safety and access to health care. Sponsors of the new national center hope its creation will accelerate these activities.

“Interest in interprofessional education and team-based care has increased in recent years but we need to move faster,” said Maryjoan Ladden, PhD, RN, FAAN, senior program officer at RWJF. “We hope this Center will foster collaborations between educators and practice organizations to advance the field and improve how care is delivered to patients.”

Among the Center’s goals will be to:

  • Develop, manage and evaluate programs to enhance interprofessional collaboration in education and practice
  • Actively engage leaders in education, practice and policy communities
  • Develop successful funding streams to ensure sustainability
  • Contribute to the development and dissemination of metrics/evaluation parameters for interprofessional education
  • Develop a strategy to pro-actively identify innovations in interprofessional education, connect innovators and disseminate lessons learned

“It seems self-evident to me that little important is accomplished in any domain by people working alone, much less one as complex as health care. If we want to offer the best care at the lowest cost, we need to have the right person with the right skills working at the right time – be it physician, nurse or social worker,” says Christopher Langston, PhD, program director at the Hartford Foundation. “

We know that collaborative care makes a significant difference in patient outcomes. We believe this new Center will provide the coordination, scholarship, advocacy, and visibility to take the interprofessional work to the next level and better prepare health professionals for a changing world,” says George Bo-Linn, MD, chief program officer at the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation.


About the Josiah Macy Jr. Foundation:
The Josiah Macy Jr. Foundation is the only national foundation solely dedicated to improving the health of the public by advancing the education and training of health professionals. Since 1930, the Josiah Macy Jr. Foundation has worked toward its mission of improving health care in the United States.


About the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation:
The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation focuses on the pressing health and health care issues facing our country. As the nation's largest philanthropy devoted exclusively to health and health care, the Foundation works with a diverse group of organizations and individuals to identify solutions and achieve comprehensive, measurable and timely change. For 40 years the Foundation has brought experience, commitment and a rigorous, balanced approach to the problems that affect the health and health care of those it serves. When it comes to helping Americans lead healthier lives and get the care they need, the Foundation expects to make a difference in your lifetime.


About the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation:
The Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, established in 2000, seeks to advance environmental conservation, scientific research, and healthcare. For more information, please visit


About the John A. Hartford Foundation
The mission of the John A. Hartford Foundation is to improve the health of older Americans. It was founded in 1929 by the brothers, John and George Hartford, both former executives of the Great Atlantic and Pacific Tea Company (the A&P grocery store chain). Since 1982, the Foundation has been a committed champion of health care training, research, and service system innovations that will ensure the well-being and vitality of older adults.

Media Contacts

Melissa Blair

Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (609) 627-5937