Health professionals may be expert clinicians but do not automatically make effective teachers and need educational development. In response, a team of health academics at an Australian university developed and evaluated the continuing education Graduate Certificate in Health Professional Education Program using an interprofessional learning model.
The model was informed by Collins interactional expertise and Knowles adult learning theories. The team collaboratively developed and taught four courses in the program. Blended learning methods such as web-based learning, face-to-face workshops, and online discussion forums were used. Twenty-seven multidisciplinary participants enrolled in the inaugural program. Focus group interview, self-report questionnaires, and teacher observations were used to evaluate the program.
Online learning motivated participants to learn in a collaborative virtual environment. The workshops conducted in an interprofessional environment promoted knowledge sharing and helped participants to better understand other discipline roles, so they could conduct clinical education within a broader health care team context. Work-integrated assessments supported learning relevance. The teachers, however, observed that some participants struggled because of lack of computer skills.
Although the interprofessional learning model promoted collaboration and flexibility, it is important to note that consideration be given to participants who are not computer literate. We therefore conducted a library and computer literacy workshop in orientation week which helped. An interprofessional learning environment can assist health professionals to operate outside their “traditional silos” leading to a more collaborative approach to the provision of care. Our experience may assist other organizations in developing similar programs.