Answering patients' evolving, more complex needs has been recognized as a main incentive for the development of interprofessional care. Thus, it is not surprising that patient-centered practice (PCP) has been adopted as a major outcome for interprofessional education. Nevertheless, little research has focused on how PCP is perceived across the professions. This study aimed to address this issue by adopting a phenomenological approach and interviewing three groups of professionals: social workers (n = 10), nurses (n = 10) and physicians (n = 8). All the participants worked in the same department (the General Internal Medicine department of a university affiliated hospital). Although the participants agreed on a core meaning of PCP as identifying, understanding and answering patients' needs, they used many dimensions to define PCP. Overall, the participants expressed value for PCP as a philosophy of care, but there was the sense of a hierarchy of patient-centeredness across the professions, in which both social work and nursing regarded themselves as more patient-centered than others. On their side, physicians seemed inclined to accept their lower position in this hierarchy. Gieryn's concept of boundary work is employed to help illuminate the nature of PCP within an interprofessional context.
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