Interprofessional education (IPE) is recognised as an essential component of healthcare education programmes to support and develop collaborative patient-centred care. Ideally, IPE within the pre-registration higher education programme curriculum is the first step of induction and orientation along a continuum of interprofessional development and lifelong learning (Barr et al., 2016). IPE is distinct from multi-professional learning in emphasising learning from and about each other’s professional roles and responsibilities (Sargeant et al., 2010). Therefore, pedagogic strategies to support IPE particularly require facilitation skills to manage teaching approaches that encourage interaction with a view to promoting collaboration with other professionals (Ruiz et al. 2013). This current study aimed to gather information of faculty development at both the individual and organizational level to support IPE in a large higher education institute offering pre-registration education healthcare programmes across a range of disciplines.
A mixed-methods approach gathered information of attitudes, ability, and current level of engagement with professional development activities to support IPE in a large higher education institute offering pre-registration education healthcare programmes across a range of disciplines. Participants (n 21, average 21 years post healthcare professional qualification) were a convenience sample from the Faculty of Education and Health Sciences including four Schools/Departments offering education across eight healthcare disciplines (medicine, nursing, midwifery, dietetics, physiotherapy, speech and language therapy, occupational therapy and clinical psychology).
Overall positive attitudes and levels of ability to facilitate IPE within the faculty was found to hold across academic roles and disciplines. Several teaching strategies were listed including reflective learning (88.9% (n=8)), case-based learning (66.6% (n=6)), invited service users, carers, actors, and/or practitioners to share experience (66.6% (n=6)), role play (55.6% (n=5)), experiential learning (55.6% (n=5)), and problem-based learning (44% (n=4)). The type and variety of individual professional development reported were unstructured, informal opportunities including collaborative conversations with colleagues (88%, n=15), self-directed through literature (76%, n=13) or following social media (70.6%, n = 12). Open text responses of stated training needs included support and guidance of IPE pedagogy (n=4), developing IPE competencies (n=2), fostering a Community of Practice between faculty and healthcare professionals (n=2), integrating IPE into the busy timetables of existing curricula (n=2), and support for large class teaching (n = 1). Respondents were somewhat positive in their agreement of IPE occurring in an academic rather than practice-based setting (68.5% (SD 10.1)). There was strong affirmation to the statement “Interprofessional efforts require support from University administration” (93% (SD11.2)) and a strong rejection of “Interprofessional efforts weaken course content” (82.8% (SD 19.8)).
There is good indication that staff would support a faculty development programme aimed at developing a community of practice that fostered shared experience in teaching and learning and enhancing IPE skillset and competencies. This would optimise team performance to create interprofessional learning activities within the complex systems of healthcare education and delivery thus sustaining IPE across a learning continuum.