Interprofessional Education and Team-Based Learning in a Research Methods Course

Thursday, 27 July 2017: 3:30 PM

Vicki Schug, PhD, RN, CNE
Department of Nursing, St. Catherine University, St. Paul, MN, USA

Purpose: Interprofessional education (IPE) assists in developing the workforce of the future in response to the need for “better patient/client care, improved health outcomes, and for achieving more efficient and affordable educational and health care systems” (IOM, 2013, p. 29). A hallmark of interprofessional education is the incorporation of interactive learning methods that promote the development of relational, team-based learning and attainment of interprofessional competencies of values/ethics for interprofessional practice, roles and responsibilities, interprofessional communication, and teams/teamwork. Interprofessional evidence-based practice is unique in that combining theoretical perspectives, expertise, and methods adds to the depth of understanding. For instance, Moyers (2016) defines interprofessional evidence-based practice as “a dynamic team process that blends the patient’s preferences and values, the expertise of practitioners, and multidisciplinary evidence to implement practice changes that challenge current disciplinary paradigms and biases to create an integrated approach to patient care” (Moyers, 2016, p.5). Problems are no longer discipline specific, but are patient problems that require multiple disciplines to solve through collaboration. Engaging students in an interprofessional collaborative research process, strengthens and expands their ability to use multiple sources of evidence and work as a team to improve patient outcomes.

Methods:  Based on findings in the literature about introductory research/evidence-based practice course and the type of students taking the course, faculty selected the topic of football and concussions to focus the course. The connection between concussions and chronic traumatic encephalopathy is a controversial topic with many ethical, social, and cultural issues. Evidence was shared from a variety of disciplines, illustrating multiple research methods and a growing body of knowledge. The topic is current both in the research literature and social media. An innovative approach to teaching this interprofessional research methods course included the four essential elements of team-based learning pedagogy including the formation of strategically formed permanent teams, readiness assurance, application activities that promote critical thinking and team development, and peer evaluation (Michaelsen & Sweet, 2011). The goal of the course was to develop the capacity of nursing, exercise science, and nutrition science students to critically interpret research, apply scientific evidence in practice/service, and to participate in the research process within an interprofessional team that increases the body of knowledge for collaborative practice and interprofessional education. Faculty were challenged in creating a course that fostered an interest in research and evidence-based practice that would be continued following completion of the course. With enrolled students whose primary disciplines were nursing, nutrition science, and exercise and sports science, faculty created an opportunity to bring research of interest to the various student groups by selecting concussion in football players as an evidence-based practice focus throughout the course.

Results: The Readiness for Interprofessional Learning Scale (Parsell & Bligh, 1999) was administered at the beginning and conclusion of the course to assess IPE competencies in students. This tool contains nineteen items organized into 4 subscales (McFayden et al, 2005), 1) teamwork and collaboration, 2) negative professional identity, 3) positive professional identity, and 4) roles and responsibilities. Students score each statement with a level of agreement using a Likert scale of 1 (strongly disagree) to 5 (strongly agree). Scores on the RIPLS survey were analyzed using parametric and nonparametric tests. Mean scores for each subscale were high both at the beginning and end of the course with no statistically significant difference in subscale scores. This result was not surprising since the majority of students had completed several IPE courses prior to the research methods course; faculty were encouraged that student perceptions remained positive relative to working in interprofessional teams.

Conclusion: The ultimate goal of interprofessional education is to engage students in interactive learning that spans the length of their degree program and continues beyond graduation through professional development and continuing education. Learning theory supports the notion of team-based pedagogy to facilitate student achievement of IPE competencies. The topic of concussion in football has been an excellent choice to provide interprofessional learning experiences for students; it provided a vehicle to present research and evidence that has social, political, and ethical implications. Working in teams and using evidence as a foundation for nursing practice are essential skills that will contribute to better patient outcomes.