Assessment of Interprofessional Communication between Nursing and Physical Therapy Students during a Laboratory Simulation Experience


Interprofessional education (IPE) continues to be valued and recommended for training students in health professions; however, the impact of IPE on health outcomes remains unclear.1,2 The Institute of Medicine (IOM) recommends that future research address the effect of IPE on collaborative practice and patient outcomes with improved alignment of academic and health care systems, challenging educators to move beyond measuring only student perspectives and self reports of IPE.2 High-fidelity simulation provides an opportunity for assessing effects of IPE in a more authentic clinical environment; however, outcomes have been limited to changes in student attitude and perception when involving physical therapy (PT).3

The Indiana University Simulation Interprofessional Rubric (IUSIR) was developed to assess individual and team communication in a simulation setting and demonstrates acceptable psychometric properties for reliability and validity of measuring interprofessional communication between medical and nursing students.4 Use of the IUSIR rubric demonstrates assessment of IPE that meets the recommendations by the IOM 2015 report by assessing collaborative behavior, reaction, attitude, and performance in practice. The aim of the current study was to establish the reliability of the IUSIR for assessing interprofessional communication involving PT and nursing students during a high fidelity simulation.


35 second year PT students and 48 final semester post baccalaureate nursing students participated in a high fidelity simulation laboratory intensive care unit (ICU) experience involving early mobilization of a patient. Students were prepared with an introduction to the evidence based TeamSTEPPs communication model, divided into interprofessional teams, and encouraged to meet prior to simulation.5 All students were scored using the IUSIR by both nursing and physical therapy faculty. Cronbach’s alpha, inter-item and inter-total correlations and interrater agreement were used to evaluate reliability of the IUSIR for physical therapy and nursing students consistent with previous psychometric testing.4


Study outcomes include establishing the reliability of the IUSIR for measuring interprofessional communication skills between nursing and physical therapy students during simulation. The results of this study indicate that a reliable and valid objective tool should be used by physical therapy to assess interprofessional communication, a core competency for IPE identified by Interprofessional Education Collaborative.6

Conclusions/Relevance to the conference theme: The Pursuit of Excellence in Physical Therapy Education

The pursuit of excellence in physical therapy education requires attention to outcomes assessed with IPE. Utilizing objective measures for IPE to determine student competence with interprofessional communication in clinical simulation will assist with achieving recommendations of IOM 2015.2 Additionally, educators can provide meaningful feedback and students can target areas for improvement more effectively before progressing to clinical practice.


1. Cox M, Cuff P, Brandt B, Reeves S, Zierler B. Measuring the impact of interprofessional education on collaborative practice and patient outcomes. Journal Of Interprofessional Care [serial online]. January 2016;30(1):1-3 3p. Available from: CINAHL Plus with Full Text, Ipswich, MA. Accessed April 16, 2016.
2. Institute of Medicine (IOM). (2015). Measuring the impact of interprofessional education on collaborative practice and patient outcomes.
Washington, DC: The National Academies Press.
3. Lefebvre, K., Wellmon, R., & Ferry, D. Changes in attitudes toward interprofessional learning and collaboration among physical therapy students following a patient code simulation scenario. Cardiopulm Phys Ther J. 2015; 26(1): 8-14. Doi:10.1097/CPT.0000000000000003
4. Reising, D.L., Carr, D.E., Tieman, S., Feather, R., & Ozdogan, Z. Psychometric
testing of a simulation rubric for measuring interprofessional communication. Nurs Educ Perspect. 2015; 36(3): 311-16. Doi: 10.5480/15-1659.
5. Zhang, C., Miller, C., Volkman, K., Meza, J., Jone, K. Evaluation of the team performance observation tool with targeted behavioral markers in simulation-based interprofessional education. J Interprof Care. 2015; 29(3):202-208. Doi: 10.3109/13561820.2014.982789
6. Interprofessional Education Collaborative [IPEC]. (2011). Core competencies
for interprofessional collaborative practice. Retrieved from

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  • Control #: 2520071
  • Type: Platforms
  • Event/Year: ELC2016
  • Authors: Dalerie Lieberz, Samantha Mohn-Johnsen, Jeffrey Kittelson, SueAnne Mattson
  • Keywords:

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