An important component in developing collaborative practice skills is the evolution of an interprofessional identity.1 Breaking down barriers where students are asked to reflect and dialogue on their stereotypes is fundamental in developing an interprofessional identity. The challenge for educators is to understand what perceptions exist, so that appropriate and meaningful IPE experiences can be developed.
There are three quantitative instruments commonly used in interprofessional research to measure stereotypes among health professional students. These instruments ask participants to rate their perceptions of various health professions using a word bank of positive and negative attributes. There is little consensus on the terms being used across the three instruments, the assessment instruments were developed 15-20 years ago and were established in the U.K. Given the timing of existing instrument development, the differences in health education between the U.S. and the U.K., as well as a new generation of future health professionals, faculty in a U.S. based institution conducted an institutional needs assessment by evaluating first year pre-licensure student perceptions of their own profession. This study included 20 academic programs at one institution. These perceptions will assist educators in the next phase of curriculum development, which is the development of goals and learning objectives2 around stereotypes within an IPE curriculum.
Addressing stereotypes is an activity that warrants further investigation, especially the use of current validated instruments to assess student interprofessional growth. Newly discovered terminology and themes differ from those used in current stereotype assessment instruments. Language evolves over time, and health professional students who do not identify with perception terms or themes used in current instruments may not consider the IPE activity to be inclusive or meaningful. Furthermore, outcomes related to stereotypes may be flawed depending on the health professions engaged in the IPE activity.
2. Thomas et al