Creating partnerships for interprofessional education (IPE): lecturer and student perspectives on an innovative learning event

Authors: Helen Bedford, Alison Smalley, Katie Graham and Carole Lindsey,
Departments of Health Sciences; Social Policy and Social Work, University of York


This workshop showcases the design, delivery and evaluation of an innovative and successful interprofessional education (IPE) event for second year midwifery and social work undergraduates at the University of York. IPE is recognised as a key component of effective professional learning, creating opportunities for undergraduates to develop their understanding of other professions, supporting more effective ways to respond to ‘multiple and complex needs’ (Barr et al 2017 p 4). Interprofessional working is an essential requirement for all health and social care professions (Council of Deans of Health, 2017; Quality Assurance Agency 2016), and is integral to application of The York Pedagogy (Robinson 2015) to the midwifery and social work curricula.

The one day IPE event (now in its second year) was designed to be interactive and collaborative. It blends structured activities for exploring professional roles, values and compassionate care with opportunities for team building, informal social engagement and serendipitous learning. The aim was to create an open and safe space to learn together to support the development of mutual understanding and respect, leading to effective and collaborative practice (Barr et al 2017).

During the workshop presenters will share their reflections alongside undergraduates’ evaluations of the IPE event, which identified positive impact in terms of learning from the day and anticipated, beneficial influence on future professional practice. Workshop attendees will also have a facilitated opportunity to share and explore existing and potential IPE activities and ideas, within their own professional and educational contexts.


Chair: Sally Quinn

The session began with an overview of what IPE is. Helen explained that it usually involves two or more professions joining together to learn from each other. Helen explained how this is important particularly in relation to health and social care in the real world as many professions will have an input into any one person’s care (e.g. social workers, community nurses).  IPE enables different trainee practitioners to gain an understanding of each other’s profession and to recognise that stereotypes are not always true, indeed there are often commonalities between professions. 

The team running the workshop explained how they use IPE in their own teaching provision. Around 40 students (a mix of student midwives, and social work students) get together and engage in planned activities in mixed groups. Ice breaker activities are a good way to get the students talking to each other before moving onto activities that can challenge pre-existing stereotypes and lead to a better understanding of each others’ roles in applied settings. One activity that the team use is ‘Compassionate Connections’ which involves a scenario of someone using the different services (e.g. midwife and social worker). This is usually delivered via audio clips. After listening to these scenarios, students are encouraged to discuss the scenario and reflect on the roles that each of the practitioners played.

The team explaining how they have used IPE in their teaching practice with student midwives and social work students.
The team explaining how they have used IPE in their teaching practice with student midwives and social work students.

The feedback from students was excellent. They found the activities enjoyable, they helped them to learn and they believed the process of IPE would have a positive influence on their future practice. Further, the Compassionate Connections was seen as a useful resource. 

After this presentation, we then got together in a group to talk about our experiences of IPE, how people wanted to use it in the future, and what challenges they thought they might face. Attendees talked about how doing these activities can be challenging. For example, there may be barriers to working across departments; staff may not know the background of students from all departments so assumed knowledge can be problematic. However, during the discussion, we talked about how chatting to colleagues can highlight similarities between departments and the things they cover in their curriculum which could lead to IPE events being planned.

Attendees and the team discussing how IPE can be used in other departments and what the challenges may be.
Attendees and the team discussing how IPE can be used in other departments and what the challenges may be.

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