Fundamentals of Interprofessional Communication: A Case Study of an Online Facilitated Learning Experience

Fundamentals of Interprofessional Communication: A Case Study of an Online Facilitated Learning Experience

Patricia Solomon (McMaster University, Canada) and Sue Baptiste (McMaster University, Canada)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-61520-889-0.ch008


This chapter presents the development, implementation and evaluation of a module on interprofessional communication skills that incorporates principles of problem-based learning, delivered entirely online. Learners focus initially on foundational concepts of relationship and patient centered care, the importance of self awareness and understanding their own professional values and biases, progressing towards teamworking to develop common patient care goals. The module faculty facilitator is essential to role model and foster interprofessional collaboration. Qualitative content analyses of discussion board postings across 29 students, supplemented by small-scale in-depth interviews and a focus group, reveal they are able to learn interprofessional communication skills online. The 10 students who undertook both module components completed a project evaluation form: there was 85.6% agreement that the module taught them about interprofessional education and 92.9% agreement that their knowledge of other health professionals’ perspectives increased. An online module can support the development of communication skills, but is recommended as one component of an overall interprofessional education curriculum.
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Background: Curriculum Development

The importance of establishing interprofessional teams to develop curricula focused on collaborative skills has been noted (Priest et al., 2005). Our team included faculty from medicine, nursing, physiotherapy, occupational therapy and social work who had interest and experience in teaching communication skills within their specific professional program. From the outset the team determined an important collective belief; to work effectively in a team, learners need to understand their own personal beliefs and values. Prior to development of the curriculum, the team felt it important to reaffirm beliefs and core values related to communication and relationships. Several meetings were devoted to developing an Interprofessional Practice Model; this served to promote discussion among the team about the process and content of the curriculum, foster mutual understanding about others experiences and beliefs, and ultimately serve as a guiding model for our curriculum (see model in Figure 1).

Figure 1.

Interprofessional Practice (IPP) Model

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