Purpose: Interprofessional Collaboration (IPC) in healthcare facilitates efficiency and optimal outcomes for healthcare consumers. To prepare future healthcare workers to engage in collaborative practice, higher education institutions are investing time and resources to engage students in interprofessional education (IPE) experiences. These experiences vary in scope and nature and can include experiential learning (EL) components. Designing these experiences involves much time, planning, and resources from faculty. This study’s purpose was to better understand recent graduates’ perspectives on their experiences as students during an EL/IPE activity, as the results could be used to garner support for these experiences. Method: This qualitative study used a phenomenological approach via semi-structured interviews to understand healthcare students’ perspectives on the usefulness of an EL/IPE activity in facilitating core competencies developed by the Interprofessional Education Collaborative (IPEC). Results: Comfortability, whether positive or negative, emerged as the main category while three subcategories emerged: Communication was Influenced by Comfortability, Understanding of Roles and Responsibilities Developed Through Action, and Teamwork Was Mostly Viewed as Logistics. The value the participants placed on working with a “real client” during the EL/IPE was also evident and is demonstrated in many participant statements but did not seem to emerge as its own category. Conclusion: The use of a multi-session EL/IPE designed to be intellectually safe while promoting and facilitating open discussion, problem solving and reflection within and among participants can promote development of comfortability. This comfortability extends to interprofessional communication and understanding of roles and responsibilities for students in terminal clinical experiences.

Author Bio(s)

Beth Gustafson, PT, DHSc, MSEd is an Assistant Professor in the Doctor of Physical Therapy Program at Gannon University in Erie, PA. She is also a licensed physical therapist in the state of Pennsylvania.

Amy Brzuz, OTD, OTR/L is an Associate Professor and Program Chair for the Occupational Therapy Program at Gannon University in Erie, PA. She is also a licensed occupational therapist in the state of Pennsylvania.


ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS We are indebted to David Barker, PhD, Retired Associate Professor in Organizational Learning and Leadership Program and past Chair, Sociology Program at Gannon University for his assistance with study design, interviewing of participants, data analysis, and results. We are grateful to have had his input and for the many hours of discussion that guided us through this project. Thank you to Ms. Deb McGraw, the secretary in the Occupational Therapy Department at Gannon University for her assistance with transcription.