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JOURNAL ARTICLE

Crossing professional barriers with peer-assisted learning: undergraduate midwifery students teaching undergraduate paramedic students

Gayle McLelland, Lisa McKenna, Jill French
Nurse Education Today 2013, 33 (7): 724-8
23159008

BACKGROUND: Peer assisted learning (PAL) has been shown in undergraduate programmes to be as effective as learning from instructors. PAL is a shared experience between two learners often with one being more senior to the other but usually both are studying within the same discipline. Interprofessional education occurs when two or more professionals learn with, from and about each other. Benefits of PAL in an interprofessional context have not been previously explored. As part of a final year education unit, midwifery students at Monash University developed workshops for second year undergraduate paramedic students. The workshops focused on care required during and after the birth of the baby.

AIM: To investigate the benefits of an interprofessional PAL for both midwifery and paramedic students.

METHODS: Data for this project were obtained by both quantitative and qualitative methods. Questionnaires were distributed to both cohorts of students to explore experiences of peer teaching and learning. Results were analysed using Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS). Focus groups were conducted separately with both cohorts of students and transcripts analysed using a thematic approach.

FINDINGS: Response rates from the midwifery and paramedic students were 64.9% and 44.0% respectively. The majority of students regardless of discipline enjoyed the interprofessional activity and wanted more opportunities in their curricula. After initial anxieties about teaching into another discipline, 97.3 (n = 36) of midwifery students thought the experience was worthwhile and personally rewarding. Of the paramedic students, 76.9% (n = 60) reported enjoying the interaction. The focus groups supported and added to the quantitative findings. Both midwifery and paramedic students had a new-found respect and understanding for each other's disciplines. Midwifery students were unaware of the limited knowledge paramedics had around childbirth. Paramedic students admired the depth of knowledge displayed by the midwifery students.

IMPLICATIONS: This study indicates both educational and professional benefits for undergraduate students from different disciplines having shared PAL activities.

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