Institution-wide Assessment of Students' Readiness for IPE at the University of South Dakota
Medical schools are beginning to implement courses in Inter-Professional Education (IPE) to better prepare students for the inter-professional team-based patient care model which is becoming the standard of practice in many healthcare facilities. Traditionally, course design processes include a needs assessment, identifying pre-requisites, developing content, teaching method, sequence of educational events, creating an assessment instrument, measuring outcomes, and transfer of knowledge and skills to patient care. Since IPE involves students from various specialties teaching each other and learning from each other, it is important to initiate inter-professional education at an optimal time in their curricula when they are ready to perform as teachers.
This relates not only to students’ clinical knowledge base but also to the degree of development of their professional identities, patient care experiences, acquired clinical skills etc. Premature beginning of IPE might be ineffective and discredit its very idea. Delayed introduction of IPE might present a missed opportunity and its effectiveness might be compromised by already developed sub-optimal team communication skills and inter-professional attitudes.
The University of South Dakota Sanford School of Medicine has conducted an international multidisciplinary survey-based research project whose goal was to determine the optimal time of initiating IPE in healthcare curricula. Medical and other healthcare students from seven different specialties completed this survey. Using a 29-item survey, the researchers assessed healthcare students’ attitudes toward IPE, readiness to learn from other specialties, readiness to teach students from other specialties, optimal number of specialties to be involved in a given IPE activity, level of expertise students expect from their counterparts, and assessed the effect of the other confounding factors. Obtained data allowed for optimal design of the IPE curricula in various USD schools.