Academic journal article Journal of Allied Health

Socialization in Health Education: Encouraging an Integrated Interprofessional Socialization Process

Academic journal article Journal of Allied Health

Socialization in Health Education: Encouraging an Integrated Interprofessional Socialization Process

Article excerpt

There is limited research on how health professionals are currently socialized to work intetprofessionally. As pan of a large-scale initiative funded by Health Canada, this repon adds to our understanding of socialization and how it can prepare the health care student for an interprofessional health care environment. Data were collected through semi- structured individual and group interviews with 83 respon- dents (i.e., faculty, students, health care and academic administrators, and health care providers) at seven clinical sites and five academic institutions throughout Alhena. Respondents indicated that socialization prepares health care students for interprofessional environments by "build- ing a professional identity" and through what we are label- ing "interprofessional familiarization" (i.e., where the goal is to introduce students to the roles and function of other pro- fessionals outside their own discipline). While there is interprofessional familiarization, it is neither consistently espoused as important nor systematically embedded in cur- riculum and clinical placements. Interprofessional compe- tency building is lacking during this preparatory phase, leav- ing students ill prepared to work in interprofessional health care environments. We argue there is a need for greater interprofessional socialization in education. By creating a deliberate, planned, and integrated interprofessional social- ization process that is consistent across the health professions, barriers to interprofessional practice could be mitigated. J Allied Health 2009; 38:18-23.

IN ALBERTA, CANADA, health care renewal is a priority with governments and regional health authorities in order to provide more efficient and effective patient care. Teamwork and collaborative health service delivery are seen as key components to health care renewal.1 Traditionally, complex patient care has been provided by multidisciplinary teams, with each professional assessing and treating a patient independently and sharing patient information with other professionals as needed. Recent trends have recognized the need to mobilize coherent interprofessional teams characterized by all professionals working interdependently with shared decision making, reciprocity in teaching and learning, integrated communication among team members, and a heightened focus on incorporating the patient/family into the care process. In conjunction with the emergence of interprofessional teams, there is a growing recognition of the need for interprofessional education for future health care practitioners.2-5

A critical element of professional education is the socialization of health care students into a profession. Socialization refers to a process through which health care students are "inducted" into the culture of their respective discipline.6 The socialization process and recruitment of students is governed by those who are in a powerful position.7 Each profession has a strong culture characterized by practices, rituals, and ceremonies; this culture not only serves to recognize champions but also perpetuate and reinforce existing culture, core professional values, beliefs, practices, and new developments.6-9

In addition, the responsibility of each profession is to mold students into effective health care professionals and imbue students with discipline-specific identities.6-20 Research indicates that a student's professional identity and role acquisition occur directly through didactic teaching and indirectly through social interaction.6-9 Health care students form an identity through interaction with others by acquiring new "component knowledge," language, and skills and through the adoption of social norms (i.e., the standard patterns of behavior), attitudes, and values that govern how to conduct oneself in a variety of settings.6-20 Such learning is considered to be the motivating factor that enables students to be able to perform their new role in a manner that is professionally and socially acceptable. …

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