INTERPROF seeks to redesign clinical education in health and social care by exploring novel models of interprofessional (IP) learning for students. It will extend IP learning for 13 health and social care programmes, involving authentic student-led encounters with clients in need of health care. Six partners - five municipalities and the University hospital - will host two pilot models, collaborating with the University and fellow municipalities/hospitals. Typical clinical placement venues will host the IP activities (preventive care, nursing homes, home-based service, health centres, the mental health service and patient pathway). A digital platform will be developed to explore possibilities for virtual IP collaboration. The clinical placement sites and students will serve as ambassadors for the new models, and experiences and results will be widely disseminated.
Strengths and weaknesses
The panel appreciated a good presentation by the proposed centre leader, which included an overview of the Centre’s further development since 2013, when a previous submission had been made to the SFU programme. The presentation convincingly demonstrated how the Centre seeks to ‘walk the talk’ on IP learning and it was emphasised that efforts had been made to more strongly engage internal and external stakeholders. The success of existing initiatives was highlighted. The presentation could have been strengthened by further clarification of the extent and nature of innovation involved in the planned ‘learning by doing’ approach. A stronger conceptual framework for research-informed teaching also would have been useful.
Students confirmed some amount of IP learning was taking place in their programs, especially in the Inter-base programme, which they appreciated. While they personally had not been involved in the development of the bid they fully expected that students would be involved as partners if the Centre were to be funded. They expressed great confidence in the University’s ability to deliver the goals of INTERPROF. However, overall, the impression was given that students perceived IP learning primarily taking place more coincidentally than in a planned way at present.
Stakeholders expressed strong support for the proposal, emphasising the importance of IP learning for students in relation, ultimately, to patient benefit and they expected good value from a SFU grant for the region as well as the University. The impression was confirmed of a project with good anchoring in the community, although to date patient involvement in the development of the Centre’s vision and activity appeared less strong than it could have been.
Teachers, some of whom had been involved in the development of the bid, generally were extremely keen for the Centre to leverage the breaking down of the silos between practitioner disciplines and expected that a Centre would provide the opportunity for academic staff to work together much more closely between the different programmes. They expressed strong motivation and, mostly, a strongly shared belief in the value of IP learning. A number of examples of good IP practice were offered, especially in the smaller study programmes. However, discussion suggested possible differences in the strength of support for the goals of the project among disciplines, and also some lack of a strong coordinating and cohesive framework for IP learning up to now. The impression was given of possible weaknesses in coordination between pilots, in student involvement as partners in the Centre, and in the current connection between research and teaching.
The panel appreciated the detailed discussion with managers and senior leaders, and noted clear strengths in the plans and personnel as well as strong international connections. While it was emphasised that the value of an SFU would be in providing status and recognition for IP learning, capacity-building in the municipalities, and a more systematic approach to IP learning in the curriculum – taking the leap from successful pilots to full embedding – the existing excellence and the ‘additionality’ (added value) of an SFU could have been more powerfully articulated especially in the context of recent government policy already driving development in this area. Clearer evidence of student involvement in the development of, and plans for, the Centre, would have been helpful, as would a clearer explanation of plans for evaluation and plans for tackling the challenges of engaging all (including medical) disciplines in the work of the Centre. Broad plans for research were outlined but further clarity on the role and nature of the PhD projects would have been helpful. There was a concern about possible over-reliance on the role of the coordinator.
In sum, the site visit confirmed effective IP pilots, strong links to municipalities and other stakeholders (with the possible exception of strong patient stakeholder involvement) and to international contacts, and convincing motivation in the University. Strengths in networking offer a good foundation for dissemination. Operational strategies seem broadly robust, although the ambition for the Centre could perhaps have been higher and the overall added value of SFU funding was somewhat unclear. The impression was given of strong WP leadership. Clearer evidence of strong central Centre coordination/leadership, and of engagement in its mission across all disciplines including Medicine, would have strengthened the proposal, as would evidence of more concrete and convincing plans and models for impact evaluation. The site visit was very positive in confirming good progress since the previous SFU submission, but some of the panel’s concerns about the readiness of INTERPROF for SFU status remained.