Interprofessional Collaboration in Health Care : Education and Practice
Abstract: Background: Interprofessional collaboration is of global interest for addressing to the complex health care needs and improving patient safety in health care. Professionals have to develop collaborative skills and the ability to share knowledge. Interprofessional education describes learning activities where students learn with, from and about each other to improve collaboration. The dimension of interprofessional collaboration is complex and includes different collaborative competencies to bring about the best for the patients. To become a professional, often understood as someone exerting expertise within a specific field of practice, involves a learning process that challenges the boundaries of the professions. Boundaries are not only barriers, but also places that increase learning. There is a complexity to studying the phenomenon of interprofessional collaboration and learning regarding how it occurs in education and health care practice. By using a sociomaterial perspective on practice, it is possible to more robustly explore the collaborative context.Aim: The overarching aim of the thesis has been to explore interprofessional collaboration and learning in health care education and in interprofessional health care practice. More specifically, the research questions in the thesis were answered in two studies regarding how professional knowledge is developed and shared in interprofessional undergraduate health care education and in interprofessional health care practice.Methods: A questionnaire was distributed to students from a medicine, nursing, physiotherapy and occupational therapy programme who participated in a two-week period of practice at an Interprofessional Training Ward in Linköping. The data was analysed quantitatively to explore how female and male students experienced their professional identity formation. The open-ended responses were analysed using a sociomaterial perspective on practice.An ethnographic study was conducted in a hospital setting during a period of one year, during which two interprofessional teams were observed. A theory-driven analysis was made using a sociomaterial perspective on practice, and this provided a lens through which the nature of interprofessional collaboration and knowledge sharing could be observed.Findings: The main findings from the questionnaire showed that the practice architectures of the Interprofessional Training Ward, prefigured practices where different professional responsibilities were enacted in ways that were reproducing expected and unexpected roles in a traditional health care practice. That disrupted the students´ practical and general understandings of professional responsibilities and the nature of professional work including their professional identity formation.The findings from the ethnographic study showed different patterns of how knowledge was shared among professionals in their daily work practice as it unfolded, like chains of actions. The patterns arose through activities where collaboration between professionals was planned beforehand, and at other times it arose in more spontaneous or responsive ways. Due to the way the activities were arranged, the nursing assistants were totally or partially excluded from the collaborative practices.Conclusions: The way that educational and health care practices were arranged had an influence on the patterns of interactions between the students as well as the professionals. The arrangement at the Interprofessional Training Ward enabled and constrained the possibilities for students to learn professional and interprofessional competencies. Professional practices in health care hung together through chains of actions that influenced interprofessional collaboration and learning. The relations between human actors, material objects and artifacts are of importance for understanding interprofessional practices.
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