Background: The aim of this study was to explore the perspectives of faculty members and academic administrators, at Qatar University College of Pharmacy, towards interprofessional education (IPE) and collaborative practice by identifying enablers, barriers and resources needed to implement IPE within the pharmacy curriculum.
Methods: A qualitative methodology was employed using focus groups discussions. Two focus groups were conducted, one focus group with faculty members (n = 5) and another focus group with academic administrators (n = 5) at Qatar University College of Pharmacy. Focus groups were audio recorded and transcribed verbatim by an independent experienced transcriber and validated by the study principal researcher. Thematic analysis was undertaken to generate key themes and subthemes.
Results: The study participants highlighted a number of enablers and challenges encountered as a result of the initial IPE events, for integrating IPE into the pharmacy curriculum. Many provided recommendations and suggestions for effective implementation of IPE. Analysis of the results focused on three main categories: enablers, barriers and recommendations. Overall, seven major themes were identified: 1) intrinsic enabling factors (initial IPE experiences, cross-appointed faculty, accreditation); 2) extrinsic enabling factors (national policy & legislation and advances in pharmacists' role); 3) student related benefits (roles & responsibilities and agents for change); 4) student hindering factors (student engagement, perceptions & attitudes and gender issues); 5) partnering academic institutions (logistical issues, familiarity with other curricula and commitment); 6) practice environment (hierarchy, healthcare professionals' attitude and lack of collaborative practice) and 7) IPE delivery (dedicated structure, IPE curriculum and extrinsic support).
Conclusion: Pharmacy academics had positive perceptions towards IPE suggesting a high level of support and readiness to pursue IPE and an opportunity for pharmacy academics to drive the IPE agenda forward in Qatar. However, a number of challenges were reported. These are important to consider to ensure the development of effective strategies for the integration and enhancement of IPE and collaborative practice.
Keywords: Academics; Curriculum; Focus group; Interprofessional education; Middle East; Pharmacy; Qatar; Qualitative.