The safe delivery of health care requires an effective interprofessional collaboration of professional roles. Traditional education of health professionals occurs in self-contained specialty educational silos. The assumptions of these training paradigms are that team skills are acquired during clinical placements. However, this does leave the development of these skills to serendipity.
An interprofessional education (IPE) initiative began in 2014 with the Southern Institute of Technology, the University of Otago, and Southland Hospital. A qualitative action research project advanced this initiative with the implementation of solutions occurring as the initiative progressed. The purpose of the IPE sessions is to develop shared learning, active communication, team work dynamics, and collaborative assessment and treatment planning, whilst replicating the clinical environment for the purposes of learning without harm to patients. This simulated clinical milieu empowers the participants to become familiar with clinical situations, while instilling interprofessional values, respect, and perspectives.
The IPE sessions have been refined based on observations, reflections, and evaluations of the IPE Team, and the effervescent evaluations from the nursing, dietician, and medical students. Additional to this, anecdotal evidence has emerged from the clinical areas revealing a noticeable improvement in communication between health disciplines.
We respectfully suggest that the breaking down of educational silos has the potential to transform traditional health care relationships, and improve patient outcomes. Further research is proposed to establish if this initiative has made a difference to team skills between health disciplines beyond the student’s undergraduate education.
Key words: Interprofessional education; training paradigms; action research.