Academic administrators' attitudes towards interprofessional education in Canadian schools of health professional education

Vernon R Curran, Diana R Deacon, Lisa Fleet
Journal of Interprofessional Care 2005, 19: 76-86
Interprofessional education is an approach to educating and training students and practitioners from different health professions to work in a collaborative manner in providing client and/or patient-centred care. The introduction and successful implementation of this educational approach is dependent on a variety of factors, including the attitudes of students, faculty, senior academic administrators (e.g., deans and directors) and practitioners. The purpose of this study was to examine attitudes towards interprofessional teamwork and interprofessional education amongst academic administrators of post-secondary health professional education programs in Canada. A web-based questionnaire in English and French was distributed via e-mail messaging during January 2004 to academic administrators in Canada representing medicine, nursing, pharmacy, social work, occupational therapy and physiotherapy post-secondary educational programs. Responses were sought on attitudes towards interprofessional teamwork and interprofessional education, as well as opinions regarding barriers to interprofessional education and subject areas that lend themselves to interprofessional education. In general, academic administrators responding to the survey hold overall positive attitudes towards interprofessional teamwork and interprofessional education practices, and the results indicate there were no significant differences between professions in relation to these attitudinal perspectives. The main barriers to interprofessional education were problems with scheduling/calendar, rigid curriculum, turf battles and lack of perceived value. The main pre-clinical subject areas which respondents believed would lend themselves to interprofessional education included community health/prevention, ethics, communications, critical appraisal, and epidemiology. The results of this study suggest that a favourable perception of both interprofessional teamwork and interprofessional education exists amongst academic administrators of Canadian health professional education programs. If this is the case, the post-secondary system in Canada is primed for the introduction of interprofessional education initiatives which support the development of client and patient-centred collaborative practice competencies.

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