Being interprofessional with medical students

By | 24th August 2017

Photo: Susan Merrell

If you happen to work in health care, you are bound to encounter a medical student at some point. You may have been one yourself, you may have been the nurse tutor that worked alongside one or you may have been that professor that tried your best but realized that one particular student was a lost cause. No matter how you met or worked with one, there is that defined barrier between student and tutor, but there are also barriers between medical students and those of other health professions, resulting in poor collaboration during their student years and in the future. These clearly need to be broken down and further exploration and discussion regarding interprofessional education for medical students is essential.

Work published recently from the University of Southampton has done just this, exploring whether medical students are receptive to interprofessional education in the first place. It is clearly stated that the amount of evidence relating to how previous IPE influences student attitudes to future interventions is limited, therefore this exploratory study looked at medical students within a paediatric unit, exploring their experiences of previous IPE and their perceptions of factors that affect the success of IPE.

Using thematic analysis, it was clear that there were positive and negative responses to IPE, providing quotes such as “You can see and appreciate what each other person does” to “Five medical students and a nursing student—that’s not really interprofessional education, that’s just putting someone into an uncomfortable position”. There was also clear expression in regards to the concepts of collaboration and what should be done in the future.

The sample used here was small, however, the themes that emerged during this study are recognisable. These included a desire for more authentic IPE based experiences especially clinically based as opposed to generic team building exercises, which were general not appreciated. Interprofessional tension was reported and interestingly, women were more receptive to IPE than male students were.

Overall an interesting paper, but one that still indicates there is work to be done in terms of integrating successful IPE at the undergraduate level. Additionally this work reminds us that barriers still exist which must be broken down at an early stage, if health professionals are going to collaborate successfully in the future.