The role of the teacher
The teacher is instrumental in ensuring that IPE is effective at many levels: at the level of the curriculum (its design and balance of activities); timetabling; allocation of resources; consideration of power relationships between different professional and academic groups; and selection of appropriate teaching and learning activities. Once higher-level decisions have been made to implement IPE, the teacher is also responsible for what goes on in the learning environment itself – the micro-culture of the ‘classroom’.
IPE facilitators need to be able to display a range of attributes including knowledge and understanding of the topic, enthusiasm, humour and empathy. Although the role is enjoyable, it is challenging and opportunities to meet together, develop their techniques and engage in follow-up debriefings are highly valued (Lindquist and Reeves, 2007).
IPE activities are most successful when they reflect real life practice, involve face-to-face and small group learning, help develop interpersonal skills and enable time for reflection and consolidation.
Here are some guidelines for classroom management of interprofessional groups.
- Encourage ‘learning from’ rather than ‘learning with’ one another
- Make sure you have an adequate, diverse and equal mix of professionals
- Ensure the majority of each session has relevance to all participants
- Utilise the skills, knowledge and expertise of all the participants through carefully selected activities
- Do not let one group dominate discussion and ideas
- Challenge stereotyping and negative views
In the clinical context, you may wish to think about how you could embed raising awareness around interprofessional issues. Simply asking questions relating to how learners work with, and might learn from, other professionals emphasises that you (as a role model) take the views of other professionals seriously.
This can be done as part of day-to-day enquiry about a patient’s progress – ‘So, let’s have a chat with the physiotherapist about Mr Smith’s progress over the last two days’ or ‘Let’s look at the notes, I see that the night nurses wrote … How do you think we should deal with this new information?’ And you can routinely involve other professionals in discussions about patient care, management or discharge.