Objectives: The belief that the effectiveness of patient care will improve through collaboration and teamwork within and between health care teams is providing a focus internationally for 'shared learning' in health professional education. While it may be hard to overcome structural and organizational obstacles to implementing interprofessional learning, negative student attitudes may be most difficult to change. This study has sought to quantify the attitudes of first-year medical, nursing and pharmacy students' towards interprofessional learning, at course commencement.
Design: The Readiness for Interprofessional Learning Scale (RIPLS) (University of Liverpool, Department of Health Care Education), was administered to first-year medical, nursing and pharmacy students at the University of Auckland. Differences between the three groups were analysed.
Setting: The Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences, University of Auckland.
Results: The majority of students reported positive attitudes towards shared learning. The benefits of shared learning, including the acquisition of teamworking skills, were seen to be beneficial to patient care and likely to enhance professional working relationships. However professional groups differed: nursing and pharmacy students indicated more strongly that an outcome of learning together would be more effective teamworking. Medical students were the least sure of their professional role, and considered that they required the acquisition of more knowledge and skills than nursing or pharmacy students.
Conclusion: Developing effective teamworking skills is an appropriate focus for first-year health professional students. The timing of learning about the roles of different professionals is yet to be resolved.