Article Text

Interprofessional learning
  1. GAVIN D PERKINS
  1. Birmingham Heartlands Hospital
  2. Birmingham B9 5SS, UK

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    Sir,Parsell and Bligh, in their article on interprofessional learning, describe examples of current practice in the UK, focusing especially on examples involving medical students.1 The examples quoted are based largely on developing communication skills, and on social and ethical issues. Whilst this style of interprofessional learning experience is well recognised, other methods of shared learning should not be forgotten.

    A cardiac arrest draws together acutely all the components of working together as a multiprofessional team. Cardiac arrest team members share a common goal − the successful resuscitation of the patient. The team is multiprofessional, many contain a mixture of doctors, nurses, operating department practitioners, resuscitation officers and others. Team members have had to adjust to the change in the traditional professional boundaries of resuscitation practice. No longer is it the case that the doctor in the only provider of advanced life support skills. In fact, in some trusts, the doctor is no longer the leader of the resuscitation team.2 Successful resuscitation is dependent on working together as a team and on sharing and respecting each others individual skills and contributions.

    At the University of Birmingham, shared learning is introduced in the first year training of medical, dental, nursing and physiotherapy students in the form of a resuscitation course. Students are taught in small multiprofessional groups. They are taught by senior students whom have undertaken a resuscitation training instructor course. Emphasis is placed on a problem-solving approach to common emergencies and practical resuscitation skills. Quality control is ensured by external assessment through the Royal Life Saving Society UK (an aquatic rescue and resuscitation training organisation).

    The course has been exceedingly well received by the students. Feedback questionnaires reveal that students prefer being taught in multiprofessional groups: 96% enjoyed the course, 94% rated the teaching as excellent or good, and 93% preferred being taught by their senior colleagues rather than clinicians. A remarkable 52.7% requested to receive training to become instructors.

    In summary, shared learning focusing on the management of a cardiac arrest has been successfully introduced at the University of Birmingham. The programme has been well received by students and staff. It is an alternative approach to interprofessional learning and should help to facilitate improved working relationships between the professional groups involved.

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