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COMPARATIVE STUDY
JOURNAL ARTICLE

Attitudes toward interprofessional education: comparing physician assistant and other health care professions students

Mark L Hertweck, Susan R Hawkins, Melissa L Bednarek, Anthony J Goreczny, Jodi L Schreiber, Susan E Sterrett
Journal of Physician Assistant Education 2012, 23 (2): 8-15
22827145

PURPOSE: Since the release of the 1988 World Health Organization report on the need for interprofessional education (IPE) programs, various forms of IPE curricula have been implemented within institutions of higher education. The purpose of this paper is to describe results of a study using the Readiness for Interprofessional Learning Scale (RIPLS) to compare physician assistant (PA) students with other health professions students.

METHODS: The RIPLS survey was completed by 158 health professions graduate students, including 71 PA students, at a small northeastern university in the fall of 2010. Students were enrolled in either counseling psychology, occupational therapy, physical therapy, or PA studies. Students completed the RIPLS survey, demographic questions, and a question regarding experience with the health care environment.

RESULTS: PA students scored significantly lower on three of the four subscales of the RIPLS survey, as well as lower in total score. Females of all health professions scored significantly higher on the RIPLS total score and on the Teamwork and Collaboration subscale than did males. Students with prior exposure to the health care system as a patient or as an immediate family member of a patient scored significantly higher on the Negative Professional Identity subscale than did students without such exposure.

CONCLUSIONS: Results indicate that PA students may value interprofessional collaboration less than other health professions students. Also, there may be gender and experiential differences in readiness for interprofessional learning. These findings may affect the design of IPE experiences and support integration of interprofessional experiences into PA education.

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