Transformative Education
for Health Professionals

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Victoria University, Australia

Professor Kristine Martin-McDonald

In 2013 Victoria University commenced the development of its innovative, across-institution interprofessional education program which transitions health students through IP classes (‘expose’), simulated learning (‘immerse’)  and practice (‘experience’). In 2014 the roll out commenced with ‘expose’, face to face and online versions, with 907 students and ‘immerse’ with 758 students. The formative and summative evaluations have been strongly positive. The logistics of implementation are challenging. A purpose-built, interprofessional clinic was completed in June 2014, with interprofessional practice as its central tenant involving the ten health disciplines at the university. 

Full project description: 

Victoria University’s (VU) vision of interprofessional education across its 10 health disciplines was to move IPE from class, to simulated learning, to IP practice. This innovative IPE has been well supported by academics at all levels within the university as an evidence-based approach to improving patient outcomes and having a positive impact on the health workforce. The university successfully competed for a substantial grant to bring this vision to fruition.  The key areas of development: curriculum, and a purpose-built IP health clinic with state-of-the-art technology.

Benchmarking IP curriculums worldwide, site visits to IP teaching institutions in Japan, Australia, and New Zealand and an examination of the synergies and differences between the 10 health disciplines at VU initially took place and the curriculum framework of ‘expose’, ‘immerse’ and ‘experience’ was developed. The IP learning commences in the classroom, blended or on-line (expose) where students begin to communicate, learn with and understand the roles and scopes of practice of other health disciplines. The IP learning then shifts to an interprofessional simulated learning environment (immerse) where students learn how to practice in an IP manner, through role models, simulated patients and case situations. Finally the IP learning culminates in the delivery of health services to the community through clinical training in interprofessional student-led health clinics, under academic practitioner supervision. The health courses include:  dermal therapy, dietetics, exercise physiology, osteopathy, midwifery, nursing, nutrition, paramedics, psychology, and social work.

The purpose-build IP clinic was designed with a ‘built pedagogy’ of IP clinical learning and practice. ‘Built pedagogy’ is a term that refers to the architectural embodiments of educational philosophies. ‘Built pedagogy’ highlights the fact that space can shape the learning within as well as patient outcomes. The design team of academics, VU facilities staff and an architectural company had to challenge traditional assumptions and rethink learning spaces. Attention was given to creating a positive, productive learning environment, with formal and informal, participatory and social as well as physical and virtual spaces.

To achieve high quality health care service and one that fosters continuous improvement, a governance framework has been developed. This framework includes 3 elements.

1. Clinical governance that provides a quality service that meets all, and where possible exceeds the minimum standards, ie. National Safety and Quality Health Service Standards in clinical practice.

2. Consumer partnership designed to place the best interests of the clients at the centre of activities, and encourage clients and the community to be actively involved in their own health care and design and planning of the health services.

3. Student governance establishing a culture of learning, which will build strong IP relationships between health and education for the future workforce.

The technological connectivity links the clinic internally, externally to other campuses and has the ability to network worldwide. The technology team has developed audio visual, digital asset management and clinical software, which includes patient management, booking and billing system. Activities related to a ‘proof of concept’ approach have tested and refined the key functions. 

Important to these efforts is the establishment and concomitant research activities and professional development program for staff, that are integral components of the VU IP program. The research efforts include extensive data collection related to clinic patients which fosters IP collaborative studies. 


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