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Intraprofessional learning in readiness for interprofessional working

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pharmacy students at table

An initiative at the University of Bradford which supports intraprofessional learning between pharmacy students and student pharmacy technicians.

Source: Babir Malik

Interprofessional education (IPE) is a requirement of all MPharm programmes. However, in order to be able to learn ‘with, from and about’ other healthcare professions, pharmacy students first need to understand specific roles within the pharmacy team and understand the importance of learning alongside other team members (intraprofessional learning).

In stage one of the MPharm programme at the University of Bradford, we develop students’ understanding of the roles and responsibilities within the pharmacy team.  One of the novel ways in which we do this is through an intraprofessional workshop every January with second year pharmacy technician students from Bradford College. This is the only example of this kind of IPE involving pharmacy students and pharmacy technician students across all schools of pharmacy in the UK.

Using learning outcomes closely aligned to recommendations for IPE (Thistlethwaite and Moran, 2010), a two hour workshop explores roles, responsibilities and calculation skills within these groups, the main aim of the workshop being to develop an understanding of the importance of collaboration in the workplace. 

The workshop has been running since 2013 and is facilitated by two pharmacist teacher-practitioners, one of which is Babir, who has been running the session since 2017, alongside a hospital teacher practitioner who also used to be a pharmacy technician, and two staff from the college.

One pharmacy technician joins a group of around 10 pharmacy students in the workshop collaborating on different exercises. There is a short talk from the hospital teacher practitioner about his journey from pharmacy technician to University of Bradford pharmacy student, to pharmacist. Finally, there is a quiz at the end which tests each of the pharmacy students’ understanding of the many roles pharmacy technicians can have in different settings, with a box of chocolate for the winning group.

The workshop is evaluated by the students using a back form with rating-scale questions and space for free text comments. The aim being to explore the students’ perceptions of the value of learning from and about each other and whether this enabled them to meet the workshop aim.

Overall, students were positive about the workshop with 90% of participants who would recommend the workshop to others. They valued sharing knowledge and ideas. Written back indicated that having the session together improved their understanding of collaboration in the workplace.  In terms of specific content however, there is mixed response to the use of case-studies, ranging from enhanced understanding of roles to questioning need.

Pharmacy students revealed they value ‘learning about’ the roles pharmacy technicians fulfil in the team and pharmacy technician students value ‘learning from’ pharmacy students.

One pharmacy technician student stated: “[The] team building exercise was informative and helped develop interpersonal skills.”

And a pharmacy student said: “Pharmacists will be working with technicians, it is nice to hear what they do and talk to them and understand them.”

IPE can benefit both groups to work together, even if learning outcomes are not the same for both parties.

The evaluation of the workshop, although small, suggests that further intraprofessional learning opportunities should be considered with an overall strategy of promoting interprofessional educational initiatives.

About the authors:

Helen Cook is a senior lecturer in clinical pharmacy at the University of Bradford and lead for interprofessional learning and patient and public involvement in the MPharm programme.  

Babir Malik is the Weldricks Pharmacy Teacher Practitioner at the University of Bradford.

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