Fostering Interprofessional Collaboration in Students

This was a question posed to me during my doctoral defense. How do we encourage interprofessional collaboration in students?

I firmly believe that educating students on the value of other disciplines and the power of interprofessional collaboration is integral for the development of all our professions in the future. By catching them at an earlier stage in their professional development, they will be more open to the ideas and perhaps more willing to work together in the future.

There is a lot of research on this topic in healthcare education. It is a popular buzzword nowadays. While I was studying for my Master’s in Occupational Therapy, our school focused on collaboration with other health professionals. I have heard that since then, the healthcare collaboration program continues to exist, but now, there is a special lab in our environmental modifications course that involves industrial design students. Another university in Philadelphia has projects with OT and architecture students. Really, the combination of professionals is limited only by our imaginations.

In the end, the research shows that projects that have a common end goal and allows for students to have a shared interest will create collaborative relationships. It is important to note that each person involved needs to have the same level of interest in the project. I saw this in my program; contributions to the project were graded in the OT program, but the medical students had no such incentive. As a result, many groups had difficulty getting the same level of commitment out of the medical students when compared to the other students who were being graded.

To support development in the education arena, I have added a new page to the website for educators and students where I will post citations to articles on various projects going across the country and ideas on how to create a similar program for yourselves.

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