Academic journal article Journal of Allied Health

Students' Attitudes toward Interprofessional Learning: A Comparison between Two Universities

Academic journal article Journal of Allied Health

Students' Attitudes toward Interprofessional Learning: A Comparison between Two Universities

Article excerpt

Because they will become health professionals of the future, it is important to assess the attitudes of students towards interprofessional education (IPE), as this will impact strongly on the development and delivery of teaching models that educators will use to facilitate IPE. The aim of this study was to examine attitudes towards, and readiness for, IPE of students from eight different undergraduate health disciplines at two Australian universities. METHODS: Th is cross-sectional study employed a convenience sample of first-, second-, third-, and fourth-year students enrolled in one of eight undergraduate courses from Monash University and Edith Cowan University. Student attitudes to IPE were measured using the Readiness for Interprofessional Learning Scale. RESULTS: A total of 1,111 students participated in the study, of whom 81% (n=907) were female. Most were aged 20-24 years (46%, n=518) and enrolled in first year (39%, n=440). Undergraduate paramedic students had the lowest mean scores for both teamwork and collaboration (M=37.41, SD=6.21) and positive-professional-identity (M=15.36, SD=3.10). Statistically significant differences were also noted between age groups and professions. CONCLUSIONS: This study adds to the emerging body of knowledge in interprofessional learning and provides important data on students' perceptions and readiness for interprofessional learning from an Australian context. J Allied Health 2015; 44(4):201-207.

IN THE DYNAMIC and ever-challenging environment of Australia's health system, new ways of working that focus on collaboration and teamwork between health professionals are essential to ensure the sustainability of health services.1-3 Numerous factors including demographic changes, an aging population, increasing incidence of complex and chronic health issues, and workforce pressures have highlighted the need for healthcare professionals to work effectively and collaboratively with each other in order to achieve optimal patient outcomes.4-6 The goal of interprofessional education (IPE) is to facilitate shared learning and understanding that promotes trust, teamwork, and communication skills, aids the dissolution of negative stereotypes, and promotes collaboration in the interest of improved patient care.3,5,6 While a number of different definitions of IPE exist, for the purposes of this study the authors adopted the definition used by the World Health Organization (WHO) as "occasions where two or more professions learn about, from, and with each other to enable effective collaboration and improve health outcomes." 4(p13)

Growing evidence supports the view that IPE improves communication and collaboration by interprofessional healthcare teams, leading to better delivery and access to care as well as improved patient satisfaction and a reduction in medical error.2,7-11 According to Brock et al.,7 leadership, communication, coordination, and human factors are the leading root cause of sentinel events, with failures in communication within interprofessional healthcare teams being a common problem. According to Humphries and Hean, "the traditional divisions and demarcations between professionals will need to be explored in the face of the clear need to work differently and collaboratively in the interest of the patients."12(p24) While the relationship between team communication and patient safety provides a compelling argument for future health professionals to undertake IPE, historically the reluctance of healthcare professionals to break out of their fixed professional silos to promote symbiotic patient care has proven a strong barrier to IPE.13-15

According to Stone,14 longstanding hierarchical and disciplinary dynamics affect the emotional climate of practice and individuals' abilities to work safely in teams to achieve patient-centred care. In addition to attitudes, there are organisational, structural, and perceptual barriers to effective implementation of IPE.13 The complexity of delivering optimal patient care in dynamic healthcare systems has received international attention. …

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