Community service learning: an effective vehicle for interprofessional education
Keywords:interprofessional education, community service learning
Health professions students have limited exposure to each other during education and training, yet there are many expectations for interaction in the workplace as part of functioning health care teams. We reasoned that providing students an opportunity to work together in a service learning project under faculty supervision would enhance student knowledge and appreciation of each other’s disciplines and give them a better understanding of working together.
Methods and Findings
Teams of students from four disciplines (medicine, nursing, dentistry, dental hygiene) worked as volunteers with a unique population of transitional homeless families to develop individualized health and wellness plans. Pre- and post-participation surveys were used to measure changes in student perceptions of working in multi-disciplinary teams, and focus groups were used to identify strengths and weaknesses of the project and future directions.
Results showed positive predispositions to working with each other which were further enhanced by collaborative, interprofessional experience. Students’ confidence in working together in multidisciplinary teams and understanding of the training and expertise of other professions increased after participation and changes were statistically significant. Interprofessional education and community service-based learning may be a powerful combination for demonstrating the value of clinical teamwork to health professions students.
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