Using Interprofessional Learning for Continuing Education: Development and Evaluation of the Graduate Certificate Program in Health Professional Education for Clinicians

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Abstract

Introduction:

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.

Methods:

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.

Results:

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.

Discussion:

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.

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