NAP Interprofessional Practice and Education Lexicon

NAP Lexicon 2.0

As the National Academies of Practice organization continues to grow in scope and application, the need for consistent and accurate use of terminology is identified as a critical component to support understanding about the discipline/science of interdisciplinary collaboration. A common lexicon provides clear understanding of the way words are used to describe aspects within or associated with the brand of NAP. Examples of how terminology can be unclear in representing the intended message are: 1) terms such as interdisciplinary, multidisciplinary, and transdisciplinary have been used interchangeably yet can hold different meanings and 2) terms such as patient, client, or person can refer to those receiving care in different ways among disciplines.

“When people speak with one language, one understanding of each other, they are able to accomplish almost anything.” [Genesis] 

In May 2020 the NAP Executive Committee assembled a Task Force with a defined purpose to develop a common NAP Lexicon to describe the terminology used across and within the organization and that would be used consistently across and throughout our communications, including publications, committees/task forces/shared work groups, and other associated products and services. 

The Task Force identified key stakeholders and organizations working in the field, including individuals using and those providing interprofessional care and service as well as policy makers and potential funders to inform its work, and reviewed related and relevant documents as well as the literature to assemble this preliminary document. The Task Force took a global perspective wherever available to generate a Lexicon to support NAP’s work to advance advocacy, education, practice, public policy, and research, however, appreciates that additional input from the Academies is needed at this point in time. Importantly, the Lexicon is intended as an iterative document that will be reviewed and refined systematically to add clarity over time by our Academies. 

With these considerations in mind the lexicon is currently divided into the following categories:

  • Terms describing the work of interprofessional collaboration in advocacy, education, practice, or research.
  • Terms describing work that is related to, but not synonymous with interprofessional collaboration in advocacy, education, practice, or research.
  • Terms describing those who do the work of interprofessional collaboration in advocacy, education, practice, or research.
  • Terms describing the processes involved in the work of interprofessional collaboration in advocacy, education, practice, or research. ('One Health', as used by veterinary medicine and others, is often synonymous with 'interprofessional collaboration'.)

In May 2022, a Work Group was created [Lexicon 2.0] to review and to update the definitions and terminology utilized in the communications among healthcare professionals from the different academies of the National Academies of Practice. The original document was developed in 2020 as a dynamic lexicon to foster clarity, inclusion, and to adapt to the evolving nature of healthcare.

The 2022 Work Group updated terminology to include identified synonyms, created visual graphics to represent the lexicon, and recommended inclusion of 'holistic health approaches', such as 'One Health' terminology, as emerging terminology related to IPP/IPC. In addition, the Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Task Force interfaced with the Lexicon 2.0 Work Group to include the commitment to justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion among the disciplines represented as academies within the National Academies of Practice. This document includes an integrated statement based upon the documents available from professional associations represented by each Academy.

For the purposes of NAP academies seeking transparency, inclusivity, and full representation, including communication with accrediting bodies for academic and healthcare clinical programs, the following terms are defined: 

  • Those for whom we are providing care may be referred to as "consumer," “patient," “client,” "service user," and/or “resident."
  • Those for whom we are providing education may be referred to as “student” and/or “learner."
  • Those providing care for a patient and/or client may be referred to as “carer,” “caregiver,” “family,” “friend,” and/or “service provider."
  • Actions involved in caring for a patient and/or client may be referred to as “care” or “service."
  • The following terms may be used for a variety of reasons by different disciplines or professions or in different contexts.
    • consumer (is) (used in many settings including mental health)
    • healthcare provider(s); healthcare worker(s); healthcare workforce; health professional(s); health workers
    • individuals; people; person(s)
    • practitioner(s); social care provider(s)
  • Healthcare is an element of social determinants of health as defined by Healthy People 2030. Social determinants of health (SDOH) are the conditions in the environments where people are born, live, work, play, worship, and age that affect a wide range of health, functioning, and quality-of-life outcomes and risks.
  • Definitions with a term followed by another term in parentheses are intended to show more inclusive (common, less inclusive) use.
NAP Lexicon 2.0

Approved by Council, 10/25/22