Using a unique approach to evaluate an interactive and clinic-based interprofessional education experience

Interprofessional education (IPE) involving an interactive and longitudinal clinic experience at an inner-city charitable clinic from September to May 2013/2014 was evaluated. Pre-, mid-, and post-intervention data were collected from students in 13 different professions including medicine (medical and physician assistant), dentistry (dental and dental hygiene), nursing (undergraduate and clinical nurse specialist), public health, pharmacy, physical therapy, occupational therapy, nutritional sciences, speech and language pathology, and social work. To evaluate their interprofessional attitudes, students completed the TeamSTEPPS Teamwork Attitudes Questionnaire (T-TAQ) and Readiness for Interprofessional Learning Scale (RIPLS). They also completed a unique measure, healthcare professionals circles diagrams (HPCDs), that indicated student conceptualisation of a healthcare team caring for a complex patient, along with perception of their team’s progress towards meeting patient goals.

Results from the T-TAQ and RIPLS scores indicated small but significant increases from pre- to post-intervention (p = 0.005 and 0.012, respectively). Analysis of the HPCDs revealed significant increases in students’ perceptions of the types of interprofessional team members, relationships, and communication between professions to provide medical care to patients (p < 0.01). Most HPCDs included pharmacists, nurses, and physicians as part of the care team at all time points. Students significantly increased their inclusion of dentistry, public health, social work, and physician assistants as members of the healthcare team from pre- to post-intervention.

Implications of the data indicated the importance of IPE interventions that include not only classroom-based sessions, but actual patient care experiences within interprofessional teams. It also reinforced the importance of new and unique methods to assess IPE.

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