Effective care in hospitals and in the community requires doctors, nurses and other healthcare professionals to work together to achieve the best possible outcomes for patients. In the UK, a shift in emphasis towards a primary care led service and recent changes to the ways in which healthcare is funded and organised, are profoundly affecting traditional patterns of working. Boundaries which define the roles and responsibilities of individual professions are becoming less clear and there is increasing overlap of knowledge and skills. The provision of effective patient care now depends much more on the individual practitioner's understanding of the need to collaborate within and between healthcare teams in community settings and the care provided in hospitals. This paper describes some of the ways in which those providing education and training for the professions are seeking to create opportunities for learners which will not only help them to understand the complexities of working in a multiprofessional healthcare environment, but also enable them to develop the skills and attitudes they need for interprofessional working. However, it is not yet established whether 'learning together' during basic training will result in better 'working together' in practice. Higher education institutions are understandably cautious about adopting new learning methods which make extra demands on decreasing resources. More studies are therefore needed to show whether interprofessional learning during basic education has an impact on future working practice.
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