There are some common misconceptions relating to what IPL is and how it works.


Myth: Interprofessional learning is about teaching one profession how to do another profession’s job.


FACT: Interprofessional education is not intended to create a new discipline or a new profession. Rather, interprofessional education provides an opportunity to balance professional socialisation into one’s own discipline with the acquisition of knowledge and skills about interprofessional collaboration (Council on Social Work Education, 1999).


Myth: IPL has to occur all the time


FACT: There are times when it is appropriate to work together and times when we work within our own professional area only.  Meeting the client’s goals is the continuing feature – IPL works intermittently to reach these goals.


Myth: Interprofessional Practice, Multidisciplinary practice, transprofessional practice – it’s all the same!


FACT: An interprofessional team is characterised by its use of inclusive language, continual sharing of information between team members and a collaborative working approach while in the multidisciplinary team.  The members work in parallel, drawing information from one another but often do not have a common understanding of issues that could influence intervention (Sheehan et al, 2007, p. 17).  Transprofessional teams (may also be called transdisciplinary) are defined as instances when a health care provider takes on a role that is normally outside of his/her usual scope of practice but for which he/she does have the necessary base of expertise and teams up with the patient and/or family to provide care. (Casimiro & Hall, 2011, p. 5)


Myth: Interprofessional teams sound good but are too hard to implement


FACT: Interprofessional teams function in a range of settings across Australia (National Nursing and Nursing Education Taskforce, 2006, p. 1) and are continually growing.


Myth: While undergraduate health students like to learn together, it won’t change their attitudes towards other professions


FACT: Evidence shows that interprofessional education has an impact on the individual’s perception of other professions and breaks down stereotypes (National Nursing and Nursing Education Taskforce, 2006, p. 1).


Myth: Interprofessional education and practice, a nice idea but it doesn’t work


FACT: There is increasing evidence that interprofessional education and practice results in positive outcomes (National Nursing and Nursing Education Taskforce, 2006, p. 2).

Find out more Myths and Facts 


Interprofessional Education – the evidence

A systematic review completed by Reeves et al (2009) found six studies that addressed the effects of IPE on healthcare outcomes.  Health practitioners in all studies were provided with formal IPE training in various forms including workshops or individual sessions, newsletters and video tapes and then compared with a control group.  Four of these studies indicated that IPE produced positive outcomes in the following areas: emergency department culture and patient satisfaction, collaborative team behaviour and reduction of clinical error rates for emergency department teams, management of care delivered to domestic violence victims and mental health practitioner competencies related to the delivery of patient care.  Two of the six studies reported mixed outcomes (positive and neutral) and two studies reported that the IPE interventions had no impact on either professional practice or patient care.


Casimiro, L. & Hall, P. (2011).  Interprofessional Education: Student pre-reading document. Ottawa: Academic Health Council - Champlain Region. Retrieved from

Council on Social Work Education (1999). Myths and Opportunities: An Examination of the Impact of Discipline-Specific (Executive Summary). Retrieved from

National Nursing and Nursing Education Taskforce (2006). Myth busters. Retrieved from Australian Health Ministers’ Advisory Council website:

Reeves, S., Zwarenstein, M., Goldman, J., Barr, H., Freeth, D., Hammick, M., Koppel, I. (2009).  Interprofessional education: effects on professional practice and health care outcomes. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, 4(1), 1-22. doi: 10.1002/14651858.CD002213.pub2.

Sheehan, D., Robertson, L., & Ormond, T. (2007). Comparison of language used and patterns of communication in interprofessional and multidisciplinary teams. J Interprof Care. 21(1):17-30.


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