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The experience of interdisciplinary peer-assisted learning (PAL)

Authors


  • Funding: None.

  • Conflict of interest: None.

  • Ethical Approval: Ethical approval was obtained from the University of Edinburgh’s ethics committee.

Corresponding author’s contact details: Dr. Christopher Saunders, College of Medicine and Veterinary Medicine, The University of Edinburgh, 47 Little France Crescent, Edinburgh, EH16 4TJ, UK. E-mail: edinburghmedic@googlemail.com

Summary

Background:  The importance and benefits of interdisciplinary practice in health care have been well documented. Despite this, few medical schools have developed formal curriculum opportunities for interdisciplinary teaching. Here, as an example of medical and nursing students teaching and learning together, we describe a novel approach to interdisciplinary peer-assisted learning led by students on fluid and electrolyte balance.

Methods:  Teaching sessions were developed and led by a collaborative group of fourth-year medical and nursing students, under the supervision of teaching staff. Each session had different stations aimed at encouraging interdisciplinary discussion between students. A pre- and post-event questionnaire was used to determine students’ views on interdisciplinary learning and teaching.

Results:  All students felt that they benefited from the interdisciplinary format of the sessions, and would recommend the sessions to other students. Furthermore, both nursing and medical students reported improvements in their confidence relating to several key domains of managing fluid balance.

Discussion:  The sessions described provide opportunities for collaboration between medical and nursing students in the planning and delivery of teaching sessions. There are doubtless many other ways in which such interdisciplinary learning could occur, but to date very few have been described in the literature. This example is offered to encourage others to experiment in this important area, to share their experiences and approaches, and to stimulate further debate on the place of interdisciplinary learning and working in undergraduate health care curricula.

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