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Keywords:

  • caring dispositions;
  • interdisciplinary seminars;
  • interprofessional education;
  • Newman’s model;
  • nursing;
  • social work;
  • values

Abstract

Title. The use of interdisciplinary seminars for the development of caring dispositions in nursing and social work students.

Aim.  This paper is a report of a study to evaluate the influence of interdisciplinary seminars for undergraduate nursing and social work students on development of their understanding of the meaning of caring.

Background.  There is growing international interest in interprofessional education, which is believed to have the potential to improve patient care. If interprofessional education and subsequent collaboration are truly to be patient-centred, it is important to identify a value base which creates a healthcare professional identity that facilitates collaboration. Caring, as a humanistic value, is found in both nursing and social work professionals.

Method.  A mixed method approach, primarily qualitative but with a quantitative component, was chosen for evaluation of the interprofessional seminars. The data were collected between 2007–2008 by videotape recordings of the sessions, follow-up telephone interviews and a questionnaire.

Findings.  There was cultivation in the nursing students of a deeper understanding of caring based on openness and a non-judgmental approach, learned from their social work counterparts. Reciprocally, social work students learned about the nursing students’ daily activities as they observed the natural process of trust and communication in the context of caring.

Conclusion.  Enhanced understanding of caring in practice is not possible via learning through a uni-professional approach. Students’ reflections and dialogue enable their development of relation-centred caring, particularly in the realm of biomedical and technical environments.