Background: Interprofessional education (IPE), where two or more professions learn with, from, and about each other to improve collaboration and the quality of care, has been proposed as a curriculum strategy to promote mutual understanding between professions, thus helping to prepare health professionals to work in challenging contemporary health systems. Although there is support for IPE initiatives within health professional education, differences in student motivation and learning strategies are likely to contribute to the success of these initiatives.
Objective: To explore self-regulated learning strategies used by first year medical and nursing students, and to determine if these strategies were different among nursing students who were high achievers.
Design: A comparative survey design.
Setting: Nursing and medical nursing schools in a large university in the western region of Sydney, Australia.
Participants: Six hundred and sixty-five first year nursing (n=565) and medical (n=100) students in a large university in the western region of Sydney were surveyed to assess motivational and learning strategies using The Motivated Strategies for Learning Questionnaire (MSLQ). Data relating to sociodemographic characteristics and academic performance were also collected.
Results: Nursing students were significantly older than medical students (mean age: 24.4 years versus 19.4 years; p<0.001), and there were also more females in the nursing student group (82% versus 56%; p<0.001). Although nursing students had a higher mean score for extrinsic goal orientation compared to medical students (p<0.001), medical students had higher mean scores for the other four learning strategies measured: peer learning (p=0.003), help seeking (p=0.008), critical thinking (p=0.058), and time and study environment management (p<0.001). Similarly, the grade point average (GPA) of medical students at the end of their first year was significantly higher (4.5, S.D. 1.4 versus 3.6, S.D. 1.3; p<0.001) compared to that of nursing students.
Conclusion: While interprofessional education is seen to have many benefits for students, this study demonstrates differences in motivational and learning strategies between nursing and medical students that may impact on the success of interprofessional programs.