November 2017 Issue: Interprofessional Education: What is it and why should it matter to Kinesiologists? Steven Fischer, RKin PhD & Daniel Santa Mina, RKin PhD

Posted Nov 29th, 2017 in KineKT

Interprofessional Education: What is it and why should it matter to Kinesiologists?

Steven Fischer, RKin PhD(1) & Daniel Santa Mina, RKin PhD(2,3)

(1)Department of Kinesiology, University of Waterloo; (2)Faculty of Kinesiology and Physical Education, University of Toronto; (3)Cancer Rehabilitation and Survivorship, Princess Margaret Cancer Centre

Optimizing person-centred outcomes often relies on the collaborative efforts of multiple health professionals, commonly referred to as interprofessional collaboration or IPC.  Interprofessional education or IPE, aims to prepare health professionals with the knowledge, skills and attitudes necessary to support effective IPC. While effective IPE requires many critical ingredients (Oandasan & Reeves, 2005), at its core IPE requires students from different health professions to collectively engage in experiential learning opportunities. Through these shared learning experiences students gain insight into, and respect for, the scope of practice and professional expertise of their colleagues practicing in other health disciplines. By working and problem solving together, students learn how to better function as an interprofessional team, develop skills to support collaborative leadership, and perhaps most importantly, begin to develop skills to support interprofessional conflict resolution.  But why does this matter to the Kinesiologist?

The IPE model has had a long and successful history within rehabilitative medicine. Linking practitioners from health professions including medicine, physiotherapy, occupational therapy and speech language pathology the IPE model has fostered effective IPC to optimize person-centred outcomes within the acute rehabilitation setting.  However, we are becoming increasingly more aware of the need to continue person-centred care, particularly in the form of prescribed exercise, beyond the acute rehabilitation setting. As patients/clients transition from acute rehabilitation, returning to normal activities of daily living or when learning how to manage the symptoms of a chronic illness or disease, they may require continued care and support. An exercise specialist, like a Kinesiologist, has a scope of practice that is well matched to optimize person-centered outcomes beyond the acute rehabilitation setting. However, most Kinesiologist’s trained in Kinesiology programs that were likely isolated from other health professions. As a result many Kinesiologist’s may not have had access to the same IPE opportunities as their health profession colleagues, and as such, may experience difficulties when trying to engage in IPC with other health professionals (Santa Mina & Fischer, 2017).  So, how can Kinesiologists address this IPE gap?

In the short term the onus is on us as kinesiologists, to address our IPE gap.  It is our responsibility to create IPE opportunities to support our learning about how to effectively contribute to IPC.  Our efforts may be directed in a couple of ways:

  • Seek opportunities to learn more about the concept of IPE.  As examples, interested readers can find information from the Centre of Interprofessional Education at the University of Toronto (, the World Health Organization (, or from the Canadian Interprofessional Health Collaborative (
  • Seek mentorship from other health professionals.  Find non-Kinesiologist health professionals that could offer guidance and mentorship regarding their IPC experiences.  Where opportunities permit, observe how other health professionals interact with one another to solve often complex person-centred needs.
  • Seek opportunities for “trial-by-fire”.  Where opportunities permit, get engaged in IPC opportunities, but do so in a purposeful way.  Be observant and cognizant of how other professionals are communicating, problem solving, and finding consensus.  Be willing to contribute as necessary, but remember the word’s of esteemed self-help author Stephen R. Covey – “first seek to understand” (Covey, 1991).

In the long term, the development of a sustainable strategy for supporting IPE in Kinesiology likely rests with the academic programs training Kinesiologists.  Recognizing the nascence of the profession, most academic programs have not yet been able to adapt curricula to increase IPE opportunities for students. However, as practitioners in kinesiology, we can and should:

  • Advocate to our alma matters for the inclusion of IPE in an effort to more quickly enhance curricular-based IPE opportunities for incoming students; and,
  • Readily offer to mentor students or early career Kinesiologist’s to expose them to IPC, if we have been able to organically developed effective IPC within our own practice. 


Oandasan I, Reeves S. Key elements for interprofessional education. Part 1: The learner, the educator and the learning context. Journal of Interprofessional care. 2005 May 1;19(sup1):21-38.

Santa Mina D, Fischer SL. Professional training and the case for interprofessional education for kinesiologists. Journal of Interprofessional Education & Practice. 2017 Dec 1;9:58-60.

Covey SR. The 7 habits of highly effective people. New York, NY.: Simon & Schuster; 1991 Nov 1.

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