Public Release: 

Early education for the health care team -- Bringing nursing and medical students together

Research Australia

The Griffith University project will develop and pilot a model of clinical education for health students that improves their learning experience and better reflects the realities of clinical practice.

Professor Amanda Henderson, from Griffith's School of Nursing and Midwifery, said patient safety largely depended on effective communication and collaboration between the health professions.

"We need doctors, nurses and allied health professionals to all work together in healthcare settings yet we currently provide limited opportunities for those professions to learn together at undergraduate level."

The project will identify areas of the curriculum such as health assessment and care planning where final year nursing and medical students can work together as teams during their hospital placements.

"We want to enhance the student learning experience, improve their understanding of other professional groups and their confidence in interacting with each other."

"Ultimately we also hope to improve the patients' experiences - that they feel their concerns are a priority, are truly considered in interdisciplinary forums and dealt with in a highly professional manner."

Dr Heather Alexander from Griffith's School of Medicine said while there was growing evidence for the value of inter-professional learning, students in the health professions trained largely independently of each other.

"We want to demonstrate how inter-professional learning can be incorporated into clinical placements. By learning together we can breakdown the perceptions and stereotypes about other health professions and enhance the health care teams of the future."

While the pilot study involves nursing and medical students, the model will also be adaptable to other health students.

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The project is supported by the Carrick Institute for Learning and Teaching in Higher Education through Associate Fellowships awarded to both Professor Henderson and Dr Alexander. Professor Henderson is also Nursing Director - Education at the Princess Alexandra Hospital and District Health Service.

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