Aims and objectives. The aim was to investigate the impact of a new structure for supporting students and mentors in practice placements (Placement Development Teams) in fostering interprofessional education from the perspective of non-medical health care students and staff.
Background. Interprofessional education is an important international issue which received significant impetus in the UK as a result of many high-profile cases where uni-professional boundaries and cultures have contributed to adverse patient and client outcomes.
Design. This study was part of a longitudinal qualitative evaluation of Placement Development Teams. The design for this stage was cross-sectional.
Methods. Data were collected using telephone interviews with key educational stakeholders in trusts and Strategic Health Authorities and focus groups with third-year non-medical health care students working in the south-west peninsula of England.
Results. Students’ focus group data indicated that interprofessional support and learning was key. Students had mixed views on how much they valued support gained from staff and students from other professions. Staff data indicated that they facilitated communication. Staff discussed their practical activities which made a difference and helped change the organisational culture in favour of interprofessional education.
Conclusion. If interprofessional education in clinical practice is to be effective, it needs local facilitation and structures that support it. Placement Development Teams can provide this. The ‘best’ means of ‘doing interprofessional education’ in clinical practice and its impact on patient outcomes requires further large-scale research work with rigorous methodologies at a national level.
Relevance to clinical practice. To embed interprofessional education in practice-based professions’ curricula and clinical placements requires active, supportive structures and local facilitation. Structures such as Placement Development Teams can help to achieve this where organisational cultures are influenced by committed staff. Students require persuasion concerning the benefits of interprofessional education.