Interprofessional education: Healthcare students’ experiences

Heila van Wyk, Marianne de Beer



Inter-professional education has been identified as a strategy to overcome some challenges facing healthcare throughout the world. The aim of inter-professional programmes within institutions of higher education is to improve teamwork between healthcare professionals. Different professionals with a variety of skills are required to work effectively in a team for comprehensive and cost-effective healthcare. A number of research studies have investigated the outcomes of inter-professional education, but limited information is available to explain the mechanisms that led to these outcomes. This study could assist Inter-Professional Education (IPE) facilitators at institutions of higher education when developing and implementing IPE programmes.


Qualitative data of the final-year healthcare students’ experiences of an inter-professional education programme were generated by means of a reflective essay. The essays were completed after participating in an inter-professional education programme and thematically analysed.

Findings and conclusion:

The findings of the study generated three main themes: the first theme was the outcomes of inter-professional education as experienced by the healthcare students, the second identified an environment in which teamwork was promoted, and the third identified certain attributes that team members needed for effective teamwork. The second and third themes were identified as mechanisms that lead to the outcomes described in theme one. It is recommended that facilitators of inter-professional education implement these mechanisms for optimal teamwork.


Inter-professional education, healthcare student, qualitative, teamwork, mechanisms, outcomes


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ISSN 0038-2337 (print), ISSN 2310-3833 (online)

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