Being that interprofessional practice is a crucial component of contemporary healthcare practice, more professional accrediting bodies have added interprofessional education as a required element to their standards. There is a plethora of papers on good interprofessional education models, but most involve in-person learning experiences. With the recent move to distance learning, especially with the COVID-19 social distancing requirements, the question is how effective are interprofessional distance learning interventions? The purpose of this study was to assess the effectiveness of a distance educational experience on the interprofessional knowledge, perceptions, and attitudes of health science students.
Health science core faculty organized a single, three-hour, synchronous, distance-based educational experience. Five health science programs were represented, including physical therapy, physical therapist assistant, occupational therapy, nursing, and social work. A total of 65 students participated in the experience. A large-small-large group model was utilized. The small group discussions included case studies with videos and guiding questions. The case studies were discussed in small interprofessional groups, via Zoom breakout rooms, with the aim of having each group establish an interprofessional plan of care, with realistic goals, for the Òpatient.Ó The Readiness for Interprofessional Learning Scale (RIPLS) Questionnaire, along with demographic questions, were given to the students 24 hours prior to, and immediately following, the online experience. A unique identifier was utilized for each student to match pre- and post-tests. SPSS was utilized for data analysis, including calculating descriptive statistics, paired t-test scores, and effect sizes.
A total of 52 students (80%) completed both the pre- and post-questionnaires. Significant differences (<.05) between pre- and post-tests were noted for 15 of the 19 items on the RIPLS. There was a moderate effect size (.40 - .60) for most of the significantly different items. Further analysis of those items revealed improvements in perceptions and attitudes, especially in the realms of teamwork and collaboration, personal identity, and roles and responsibilities, following the distance-based interprofessional experience.
Conclusions/Relevance to the conference theme:
A single, three-hour, synchronous, distance-based, interprofessional experience, that includes small group case discussions, can result in significant improvements in knowledge, perceptions, and attitudes about interprofessional practice. As an alternative to in-person interprofessional experiences, this type of academic strategy can help prepare students for future practice, where individuals must understand roles and responsibilities, as well as collaborate with other professionals. Furthermore, the use of distance education assists institutions in overcoming potential barriers for interprofessional education, such as physical space, and allows partnerships to be formed with other professional programs, who may not be housed at the host institution.