Authentic interprofessional placements: how university staff understand and influence

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionpeer-review


Background: Interprofessional placements that enable students to develop related practice skills are critical to meet the needs and expectations of employers in many contemporary health workplaces. However, university staff often direct the design of placements to meet students’ perceived interprofessional learning requirements, rather than patient needs or to enhance interprofessional work practices. This project identified how university staff's knowledge of interprofessional concepts influenced their design of placement activities for diverse health workplaces.
Summary of Work: Twenty-one university staff members from ten health professions who organise or teach students undertaking professional placements participated in a semi-structured interview. Interviews explored participants’ understanding of interprofessional education and placements, how professional accreditation processes affect interprofessional training, and future interprofessional placement design. Interviews data were analysed using a Framework Matrix, and interpreted using Gidden's (1984) Structuration theory.
Summary of Results: Participants demonstrated a fixed, but incomplete understanding of interprofessional learning and the interface between this and professional accreditation requirements. Their knowledge of interprofessional learning, shaped by the university context, influenced and often limited their design of work-based interprofessional placements and the range of potential activities that students could engage with to accord with university priorities. Categories identified as structural placement barriers were typical of university constraints; including timetabling, whole of cohort experiences, perceived professional accreditation constraints and cost. In designing future placements,
participants prioritised known university constructs, including using block placements; traditional clinical models and simulations. Participants did not identify placement designs that prioritised local work practices or activities germane to workplace settings.
Discussion and Conclusions: University staff knowledge about interprofessional concepts were structures that influenced and limited how they constructed placements. Their university-based understanding of interprofessional activities set cognitive boundaries that both informed and limited how interprofessional
learning may relate to workplaces. This prioritised student learning needs over their participation in authentic interprofessional activities identified and prioritised by workplace staff.
Take-home Messages: How interprofessional concepts were understood by university staff were structures that informed how they designed placements. This understanding is likely to differ from interprofessional activities identified by health staff. As such, to ensure authentic student learning experiences that reflect interprofessional activities and priorities germane to health workplaces, university
staff should co-design placements with industry.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationAssociation of Medical Education in Europe
Publication statusPublished - 27 Aug 2019
EventAMEE Conference, 2019 - Austria, Vienna, Austria
Duration: 25 Aug 201928 Aug 2019


ConferenceAMEE Conference, 2019


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