Wendy McKinstry is Undergraduate and Entry to Practice Development Lead at Ko Awatea, Counties Manukau Health. She has a clinical background in physiotherapy, and completed a Masters of Health Practice from AUT University in 2012. Her professional interests include interprofessional practice and allied health professional development.
Think beyond the scope of your own profession for a moment. Consider the needs of your patients. What kind of workforce do patients need? What model of care? In almost every case, the answer will be: an interprofessional approach.
The interprofessional approach uses integrated teams made up of healthcare professionals from different disciplines who work collaboratively to a common goal based on the needs of the patient.
This approach delivers a higher level of collaboration, which makes it better suited to dealing with complex patients. These patients benefit from input from a range of disciplines and improved communication among the professionals involved in their care. Care also becomes more efficient in an interprofessional team – there’s less duplication of assessment and communication with the patient, and care is led by the team member with the most appropriate skills to meet the patient’s needs.
Why isn’t the interprofessional approach standard practice?
One of the reasons is how healthcare students are trained. Medical, nursing and allied health students are generally trained at different tertiary institutes, which doesn’t always prepare them for working in a collaborative way.
Counties Manukau Health (CM Health) uses undergraduate interprofessional education to create the culture change we need to support interprofessional practice.
Working with tertiary education providers on the curriculum they offer to students on placement at CM Health is key. Universities are starting to offer interprofessional education, and this must transition into workplace-based training.
Ko Awatea plays a central role in this. The Ko Awatea Centre is a joint venture between CM Health and tertiary education providers. As well as providing a conduit for CM Health to work with tertiary education providers, it offers a physical facility where interprofessional education can take place.
Ko Awatea runs interprofessional workshops where students get together for two afternoons during their placements and have the opportunity to learn with, from and about each other. Workshops use the National Burn Centre, based at Middlemore Hospital, as a teaching resource to model interprofessional practice. Workshop facilitators worked with staff of the National Burn Centre to produce a video that introduces students to the key elements of the interprofessional approach – team functioning, interprofessional communication, patient/whānau-centred care and collaborative leadership.
Another initiative is the Perioperative Interprofessional Dedicated Education Unit (DEU). CM Health, the University of Auckland and Manukau Institute of Technology adapted the DEU, traditionally a nursing concept, into an operating theatre placement that brings nursing and medical students together. Students share facilitated activities, including a shared orientation, simulation session and communication tasks.
The Perioperative Interprofessional DEU is part of a wider effort to seek opportunities for students on placement to learn from, with and about each other more often. This effort extends to using a coordinated team that includes representation from different disciplines to organise student placements. This pools resources and enables team members to learn from each other using the principles of interprofessional learning applied to undergraduate education.
While much remains to be done to move the culture of the existing workforce towards interprofessional practice, preparing students to work collaboratively as soon as they qualify is an important step in creating the collaborative workforce of the future.
For more information, see:
Flood B, McKinstry W, Friary P, Purdy SC. Cultivating interprofessional practice in New Zealand: an inter-sectorial approach to developing interprofessional education. J Allied Health. 2014; 43(3): e59-e64.
Watch the CM Health interprofessional education video
Attend the New Zealand Interprofessional Health Conference, Auckland, New Zealand, 4-5 July 2016.