The meaning of interprofessional education for nursing, medical, and allied health students
Faculty members from health profession programs are under pressure to design and facilitate interprofessional education (IPE) projects to meet accreditation standards, even though most have not been trained to design and implement IPE projects, nor were they exposed to IPE during their own educational preparation. Some students and faculty have questioned the real benefit of IPE, which can be time-consuming and complicated to carry out. The aim of this study is to understand the meaning IPE has for students thereby contributing to the body of knowledge about IPE and establishing a foundation for planning future IPE projects that are relevant and effectively engage students. This qualitative study is based on the interviews of fourteen nursing, medical, occupational therapy and physical therapy students that participated in the Interprofessional Pediatric Advocacy Program (I-PAP), an interprofessional service-learning program at the University of Texas Medical Branch. Interviews were transcribed and the text was analyzed using a phenomenological hermeneutical method by Lindseth & Norberg which revealed three themes: learning to be authentic, embracing evolving reverence, and building enduring relationships. These themes were constructed from six subthemes: realizing how much you don’t know, being fearful of sounding stupid, embracing humbling experiences, appreciating what others have been through, and building trust through conversation. The study findings indicate that the value of IPE experiences really occurs as a result of spending time with other students and learning to openly communicate without being apprehensive about dialogue with those from other professions. In the future, IPE planners should increase opportunities for students to work together over extended periods of time so students can have adequate time to get to know each other. There should be less focus on the teaching of rote checklists and communication acronyms and more on providing socialization that is guided by learning goals and flexible enough to meet the students’ needs as they evolve.