Assessing the Effectiveness of Interprofessional Learning Experiences for Rehabilitation Therapy Students' Clinical Education
Background: UNC Healthcare Rehabilitation Therapies hosts hundreds of students on an annual basis from physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy, child life, rehabilitation counseling, and recreational therapy programs across the state. A primary goal of the department is to introduce these students to interprofessional collaborative practice and the importance of this practice for improving quality patient care through interprofessional practice. The purpose of the project is to assess the effectiveness of our interprofessional learning experiences to increase students' exposure to other disciplines and their effectiveness for interprofessional collaboration using the IPEC Competencies.
Design: During orientation on the first day of clinical placement, the principles of Interprofessional Education and Practice (IPEP) were explained and the IPEC Competencies reviewed. Students met monthly to discuss various healthcare topics and understand how each discipline approaches these topics or needs. Students completed the IPEC Competency Self-assessment Tool each month and again during the last week of their clinical rotation.
Results: Based on exit interview feedback from students at the end of rotations, they reported finding value in collaboration with other disciplines and learned to use other disciplines as referral resources. Results of the self-assessment tool showed a strong increase in developing team relationships and understanding the need for honesty and integrity in these relationships. The students also developed a solid understanding of roles and responsibilities in healthcare teams as well as ethical standards for care. Many students also reported improved communication skills and knowledge of their role and responsibilities. Results also found students beginning to develop leadership skills for providing effective team based care and managing any discrepancies about patient care.
Conclusion: Results show that our education approach is effective in increasing students’ knowledge of interprofessional education and practice for providing quality care, understanding the importance of team-based care and communication as well as the need for continued training and professional development that focuses on the IPEC Competencies.
Reflections/lessons learned: Staff members of the UNC Rehabilitation Therapies work closely with each other, and with other members of the rehab teams and model the importance of interprofessional practice for our students. Some consider these competences as "soft skills" that may not be taught as a theoretical class. Yet, when students have the opportunity to learn these skills and apply them during their clinical placement, it allows them to see the importance and value of team collaboration to benefit the overall quality of patient care.