By working together interprofessionally we can achieve much more

  • Research stories
samenwerken interprofessioneel

According to Jan-Jaap Reinders, interprofessional collaboration is the solution to many of the complex problems we face today.

‘We need sustainable changes to meet these complex challenges,’ he says. 'It is impossible to be homo universalis anymore, in other words, an individual who can do everything. Today's problems transcend the time, knowledge and skills available to individual professional groups. We need to make use of each other's perspectives and unique talents and not just focus on our own profession.'

Knowing what you can and cannot do

Dr. Jan-Jaap Reinders is an occupational and organisational psychologist and postdoctoral researcher in Interprofessional Collaboration at the research group Healthy Ageing, Allied Health Care and Nursing. For the past three years, he has been working on the INPRO project, which focuses on interprofessional collaboration in healthcare. Interprofessional collaboration is often confused with multiprofessional collaboration. Multiprofessional collaboration is the sum of separate services for the same client. Because people don't know what the other is doing, this can lead to major problems, such as duplication of effort and treatments that are not coordinated. Jan-Jaap: 'We often think that we work together interprofessionally, but, in fact, that is not the case. Letting different professional groups learn or work shoulder to shoulder will not necessarily make them interprofessional. Something else is needed for that too. In interprofessional collaboration, for example, you are also focused on making optimal use of other people's talents. If the members of a team have a relatively high interprofessional identity, people tend to make more effort for each other and listen to each other more. Such a group comes up with more solutions, asks each other more questions, gives each other more ideas, and determines the work agenda together. If you can achieve more together than alone, we speak of synergy. And we can therefore influence that synergy indirectly by developing an interprofessional identity.'

Interprofessional collaboration is key

According to Jan-Jaap, a project here and a project there will not get us there. We need a longer-term strategy, and for that the intrinsic motivation of people is indispensable. 'Interprofessional identity is one such source of motivation that can gradually gain strength through education and therefore increasingly unchangeable,' he says. 'This intrinsic motivation, together with the ability to work together interprofessionally, leads to synergy. This will allow us to make better use of the wealth of knowledge and experience within Hanze University of Applied Sciences.'

Interprofessional collaboration can make a big difference for all kinds of organisations, especially in the field of care and well-being. Jan-Jaap: 'We have seen that when people work together interprofessionally, staff turnover decreases, job satisfaction increases and work stress and burnout decrease.' Interprofessional collaboration also has an impact on a decrease in avoidable medical errors, a reduction in medication use and a large reduction in the number of days spent in rehabilitation without loss of quality. 'So healthcare can be more efficient and effective, and we can demonstrate that,' says Jan-Jaap. Together with Professor Wim Krijnen of the same research group, he developed a short psychological test (EPIS) that measures the degree of interprofessional identification. The test is applicable in education and practice, and is currently used in research in 19 countries.

Hoe can education facilitate this?

Jan-Jaap: 'It would be ideal if interprofessional education would become compulsory, just like our traditional education. This is already happening in Indonesia, for example. Our research shows that we can already achieve strong effects with one mandatory interprofessional day per month for every student and for every programme, all on the same day. Which programme will work together with which other programme should depend on the issues from professional practice. These must be realistic, otherwise there will be no relevant connection between education and practice. If we fill this in from the first to the last year with educational activities that encourage interprofessional thinking in interprofessional teams, this will lead to the development of a strong interprofessional identity. This can be formed at the same time as a professional identity, i.e. a person's identification with one's own professional group. A development like this will lead to a cultural change throughout the Hanze because like-mindedness is determined by the number of people who identify with a certain way of thinking and acting. And if you feel more involved with each other, you will feel a greater urgency to solve problems together and you will also work together to solve them.'

The WHO acknowledges us as an important partner

The beauty of interprofessional collaboration is that it works anywhere in the world. This is also recognised by the WHO, with whom there has been a collaboration since 2020. The contacts are made through Interprofessional Global (IP. G), of which Jan-Jaap is a board member and which has recently been established in Groningen with the support of the Hanze. IP. G is a global network that stimulates exchange and research of interprofessional education and a more integrated practice of care and well-being. The WHO considers IP. G as a strategic partner in the development of interprofessional education worldwide.

'From solo to synergy', handbook written by Jan-Jaap Reinders, professor Peter Pype and 22 other authors. The book aims to support the development of professional collaboration in education, professional practice and research.

Read more about this handbook here

Two-day INPRO symposium shows impact of collaboration

Recently, the Hanze and Rehabilitation Friesland organised a two-day symposium on the power of interprofessional collaboration in healthcare. INPRO is a European funded project that aims to develop the connection between interprofessional education and professional practice. European healthcare workers, teachers and researchers came together for exchange, participation in various workshops and a 'Field Visit' to the interprofessional learning department of Rehabilitation Friesland. Here, students from different professional groups learn about interprofessional collaboration in rehabilitation. Over the past three years, several products have been developed, including the INPRO competency framework for education and professional practice and teaching materials in multiple languages. Final results and developed materials can be found on

Interprofessional collaboration at Revalidatie Friesland. Read more