Academic journal article American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education

A Consensus Approach to Investigate Undergraduate Pharmacy Students' Experience of Interprofessional Education

Academic journal article American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education

A Consensus Approach to Investigate Undergraduate Pharmacy Students' Experience of Interprofessional Education

Article excerpt

Objective. To assess the development of knowledge, attitudes, and behaviors for collaborative practice among first-year pharmacy students following completion of interprofessional education.

Methods. A mixed-methods strategy was employed to detect student self-reported change in knowledge, attitudes, and behaviors. Validated survey tools were used to assess student perception and attitudes. The Nominal Group Technique (NGT) was used to capture student reflections and provide peer discussion on the individual IPE sessions.

Results. The validated survey tools did not detect any change in students' attitudes and perceptions. The NGT succeeded in providing a milieu for participating students to reflect on their IPE experiences. The peer review process allowed students to compare their initial perceptions and reactions and renew their reflections on the learning experience.

Conclusion. The NGT process has provided the opportunity to assess the student experience through the reflective process that was enriched via peer discussion. Students have demonstrated more positive attitudes and behaviors toward interprofessional working through IPE.

Keywords: pharmacy education, interprofessional education, reflective practice, nominal group technique


Enhanced coordination of health care practitioners through interdisciplinary collaboration benefits patients by preventing fragmentation of care. (1,2) Interprofessional teams improve the quality of patient care, (3,4) with lower costs (4,5) and decreased length of hospital stay. (6) Interprofessional education (IPE), defined as" education expressly intended to promote the effective function of a health team involving the relevant health professions," (7,8) has received much focus globally as a means to achieve this collaborative practice. The Centre for the Advancement of Interprofessional Education (CAIPE) describes IPE as "occasions when two or more professions learn with, from and about each other to improve collaboration and quality of care." (9)

Interprofessional education can take many guises, some of which may not be as effective as others in cultivating collaborative practice. (10) Certain fundamental conditions have been claimed to be crucial for the success of IPE in achieving positive attitude change at the undergraduate level. The "contact hypothesis" outlines prerequisites of a physically and emotionally comfortable learning environment, such as ensuring that the setting and participants are positive and cooperative; there is institutional support and collaboration; members of the group are representative (eg, of a profession or social group), and of equal status and there should be positive feedback to students. (11)

In the development and evaluation of IPE initiatives, there are two learning theories that can be applied, namely the behaviorist and constructivist approaches. Hean and colleagues delineate how behaviorists focus more on the outcomes of learning expressed as behaviors. (12) This theory has been largely excluded from literature describing IPE curriculum design. (12) However, the Kirkpatrick model (13) of evaluation of learning outcomes adapted by Barr and colleagues (14) (Table 1), which is behaviorist in approach, has been used to measure the effectiveness of IPE programs. (15,16)

The measurement of change in student behavior within interprofessional working (level 3 in Table 1) is an example of a behaviorist approach to evaluation. This has traditionally been hard to identify and measure especially at the undergraduate stage (12) except through the method of self-reporting by the student. (15,17) More advanced levels of this outcome framework such as change in organizational practice (level 4a) and benefits to patients (level 4b) are problematic to use in measuring prequalification and require longitudinal evaluation. (18) Constructivists focus on the process of learning or constructing knowledge and encompass a range of theories under two categories: cognitive and social constructivism. …

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