Following success in 2016 and 2017, the Institute for Medical Education (IML) received the award of the Academy of Medical Sciences (SAMW) for interprofessional education for the third time in a row in 2018. The projects were all collaborative with university hospitals and educational institutions (overview see box). Interprofessional education means that students of the medical and healthcare professions work together, for example, to work out what the further treatment of a patient could look like. How can this approach be used in the training of the medical and healthcare professions?

Interprofessionality is one of the approaches to tackling the challenges of the future, such as social change or to address a shortage of professional staff. Studies show that this can optimize the quality of care and increase economic efficiency alongside a clarification and redefinition of the professional roles and profiles of all the professional groups involved.

Interprofessional education / interprofessional cooperation

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), interprofessionality (IP) is based on two complementary approaches: on the one hand interprofessional education (IPE), which aims to make trainees "collaborative practice-ready", and on the other, actual interprofessional co-working (interprofessional collaboration, IPC). The former is an indispensable prerequisite for the latter.

The WHO defines IPE as follows: «Interprofessional education occurs when students from two or more professions learn about, from and with each other to enable effective collaboration and improve health outcomes»[1]

Practice cooperation in interprofessional teams (© Pictures BZ Pflege and IML)

Stakeholders and themes

Various stakeholders consider interprofessionalism to be a priority. For example, the Federal Office of Public Health (FOPH), the German Association for Medical Education GMA and the WHO are committed to strengthening cooperation between health care professionals. Numerous studies have shown that knowledge of other occupational groups, their roles and competencies leads to better cooperation and thus better patient care. In addition, the professional satisfaction of all participants increases. [2]

«Many things are referred to as IPE, which do not really meet the criteria, » commented Ulrich Woermann (IML), who implemented one of the first interprofessional projects at the Medical Faculty. "It is not the joint learning alone that counts, but the mutual learning of cooperation in the interprofessional team. It is exactly this, which is still practiced too little»

While interprofessional education is an integral aspect of the curriculum in many countries (such as Scandinavia and England), in Switzerland such classroom training activity is only implemented at a few locations.

Current status: University Medical School landscape in Switzerland

The Medical Faculties in Switzerland vary widely in their provision of interprofessional training. The frontrunners are the Universities of Geneva, with the Center for Interprofessional Simulation (CIS), and Zurich with the Interprofessional Training Ward (ZIPAS), which will be operational in Autumn 2019. Since the 2011/2012 academic year, the Faculty of Medicine Bern and the Bern Nursing Education Center has organized an elective internship with medical and nursing students in the form of 2 half-days in the 1st and 3rd semesters. Through this, prospective doctors and nurses obtain an insight into the education and the professional world of others. Other interprofessional courses include the seminar on medical confidentiality in cooperation with the Bern University of Applied Health Sciences (BFH) and the IML, as well as the injection course in the first year, in which both the learning groups and the team of peer tutors are composed of various healthcare professionals.

On 7 December 2018, the Swiss Accreditation Council (AAQ) accredited the Bachelor's and Master's degrees in human and dental medicine at the Faculty of Medicine of the University of Bern unconditionally for seven years. 

The AAQ expert group deemed that the Standard 1.03f "to take account of the competencies of other recognized health professions" had been met. The group recommended the further development of interprofessional training modules such as the patient visit in the Master's program, for example.

The University of Berne, Faculty of Medicine commented on the AAQ recommendation as follows: »The faculty will (...) pursue its approach to increase the teaching of interprofessional competencies. Thus, the existing good cooperation between the Institute for Medical Education and the Bern University of Applied Sciences and the Bern Nursing Education Center is to be further expanded, for example, as part of further optional interprofessional courses. »


Interprofessionality helps future health professionals to be better prepared for the increased demands of the healthcare system. The WHO succinctly makes the point: "It is no longer enough for health workers to be professional. In the current global climate, health workers therefore need to be interprofessional. "[3] This requires organizational and political structures, resources as well as concepts, to ensure the closer cooperation of the professions in theory and practice. A better interaction of all involved occupational groups in the health system ultimately benefits patients. [4]

The "Interprofessionality" thematic group of the Federal Office of Public Health (FOPH) concluded in 2013 that: "To optimize the therapeutic processes for the well-being of patients, avoid mistakes and alleviate the shortage of health professionals through efficient cooperation, the various occupational groups must in a timely manner explicitly reflect on their own roles, duties and responsibilities, as well as those of other professions.[5] " The IML seeks to incorporate this approach into medical education.


[1] Framework for Action on Interprofessional Education & Collaborative Practice, World Health Organization, 2010

[2] GMS Journal for Medical Education; Position Paper GMA Committee - Interprofessional education in the healthcare professions, 13 May 2015

[3] Framework for Action on Interprofessional Education & Collaborative Practice, WHO, 2010

[4] GMS Journal for Medical Education; Position Paper GMA Committee - Interprofessional education in the healthcare professions, 13 May 2015

[5]  Report of the "Interprofessionality" thematic group of the Federal Office of Public Health (FOPH), 2016

Overview of interprofessional projects of the IML



  • SPSim Conference "Standardized Patients and Simulations" is a cooperation between the IML with the Bern Nursing Education Center, the Bern University of Applied Health Sciences and the High School of Health Vaud (HESAV)


  • SAMW Award 2018:
    Interprofessional workplace-based assessments in Diabetes, Katrin Feller, Michelle Müller, Livia Remund, Sibylle Stocker (Inselspital, University Hospital Bern), Christoph Berendonk (IML)
  • SAMW Award 2017: 
    Interprofessional learning with interprofessional peer tutors, Claudia Schlegel (Bern Nursing Education Center), Noemi Schaffner (Bern University of Applied Health Sciences), Beate Brem (IML)
  • SAMW Award 2016: 
    Interprofessional learning during basic training of various healthcare professions, Gudrun Herrmann (Institute of Anatomy, University of Bern), Claudia Schlegel (Bern Nursing Education Center), Ulrich Woermann (IML)

Evaluation tool development (BAG-Mandats of IML)

  1. Development of the Swiss Interprofessionality Evaluation Tool «SIPEI» (Sept. 2017 – Nov. 2019)
  2. Applicationn of the Swiss Interprofessionality Evaluation Tool «SIPEI» (since May 2019), follow-up mandate to 1 (led by BFH under Prof. Dr. Kai-Uwe Schmitt; IML is the cooperation partner)


  • Annual Meeting of the Society for Medical Education (GMA) 2019 in Frankfurt, main topic "Interprofessional Teaching"
  • Brochure of the Funding Program on Interprofessionality in Health Care, FOPH, 2017
  • Interprofessionality in medical education; FOPH; Report of the topic group Interprofessionality, 2016
  • "Introducing Interprofessional Education"; CAIPE, 2013
  • "Framework for action on interprofessional education and collaborative practice“, WHO, 2010
  • SAMW Charta, Collaboration between different professional groups in health care (2014)