In response to demographic changes and the growing complexity of healthcare demands, national and international organizations are requiring greater cooperation among the health professions. Implementation of interprofessional learning programs within study programs in medicine, midwifery, nursing, and therapy is still rare. The first projects are currently underway in Germany. This paper presents the experience gathered by the organizers as interprofessional courses for six study programs were implemented.
As part of the collaborative project "Interprofessional Practice in Health Care" between the Medical School at the Ruhr University in Bochum and the Department for Applied Health Sciences at the Hochschule für Gesundheit, interprofessional curricular units were developed, taught and evaluated with the aim of establishing permanent and joint curricular structures at the two German universities. Imparting communication skills, knowledge of and appreciation for the work performed by the other health professions, as well as having students reflect on their own professional roles and responsibilities, were the focus of four curricular units. Students worked together in small interprofessional groups.
A total of 220 students enrolled in occupational therapy, midwifery, speech therapy, medicine, nursing, and physiotherapy participated in small-group seminars. When conducting and implementing the seminars, administrative and methodological challenges became apparent, and this should be taken into consideration in regard to any future development of interprofessional courses. Integration into existing curricula, along with finding time in the various schedules and appropriate classroom space for small groups, were among the challenges faced. For over 86% of the students it was important that students from all six of the degree programs involved participated in the project. A detailed analysis of the content and evaluation will follow.
The value of the project's aim to include as many study programs in the health professions and medicine as possible was confirmed by the participating students. However, accomplishing this requires a substantial amount of organizational effort in terms of scheduling, finding classroom space and integration into existing curricula. Careful attention must be given specifically to the coordination of monoprofessional and interprofessional teaching units.
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