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Shared learning in the National Health Service
  1. Howard Skinner
  1. Correspondence to:
 Dr Howard Skinner
 The Tutbury Practice, Monk Street, Tutbury, Staffordshire, DE13 9NA, UK; hdskinner{at}doctors.org.uk

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Across the National Health Service clinical teams from a variety of professions work together in delivering patient care, with traditional professional roles becoming increasingly challenged by new working practices. Shared learning between health care professionals in the NHS has been advocated as a means to improve the ability of individuals to work together in optimising patient outcomes.1 The Department of Health has been keen to incorporate such interprofessional education within its policies. Most notably, the NHS Plan in 2001 highlights the need for cooperation and partnership with a core curriculum of pivotal communication skills and NHS principles/organisation.2 In order to support such a vision, the Department of Health prompted universities to create common learning pathways to deliver the key components in its workforce strategy: teamwork, collaboration, skill mix, flexible working, flexible opportunities to change career trajectory, and new types of worker.3 At the same time that the Department of Health has promoted such shared learning, the medical profession has become more sceptical of its agenda, concerned that interprofessional education seeks to equip cheaper generic health care workers and “de-professionalise” medicine.

DEFINITIONS

The importance of precision in definition is particularly relevant to any discussion of multi-professional education. Various accounts from different authors use terminology in slightly different ways and therefore it is important for the reader to understand the common use of key terminology. Multiprofessional education (MPE) describes activities where individuals from two or more professions learn together side by side, but not in a collaborative manner. By contrast, interprofessional education (IPE) describes activities where health care personnel from two or more professions learn together, learn from each other and/or learn about each other’s roles in order to facilitate collaboration. For ease of description this account uses the terms shared learning and multidisciplinary learning interchangeably with IPE.

WHERE DID INTERPROFESSIONAL EDUCATION COME FROM?

Barr describes …

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