Implementing successful interprofessional communication opportunities in health care education: a qualitative analysis

Kathryn B. Keller1, Terry L. Eggenberger1, Julia Belkowitz2, Mira Sarsekeyeva3 and Amalinnette R. Zito2

1Christine E. Lynn College of Nursing at Florida Atlantic University, Boca Raton, Florida, USA

2University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, Regional Medical Campus. Boca Raton, Florida, USA

3Charles E. Schmidt College of Medicine at Florida Atlantic University. Boca Raton, Florida, USA

Submitted: 18/07/2013; Accepted: 23/11/2013; Published: 22/12/2013

Int J Med Educ. 2013; 4:253-259; doi: 10.5116/ijme.5290.bca6

© 2013 Kathryn B. Keller et al. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use of work provided the original work is properly cited. http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0

Objectives: To explore the experience of an interprofes-sional communication educational intervention among nursing and medical students.

Methods: Forty-five medical students and 50 nursing students participated in two-hour-long interprofessional communication skills education sessions with interprofes-sional groups of 6-8 students each. The sessions were based on the Strategies and Tools to Enhance Performance and Patient Safety (TeamSTEPPS[sup]TM[/sup]) curriculum. Problematic communication scenarios were presented and then reenacted by the students with role plays that depicted improvements in interprofessional communication. Afterward, narratives describing their experience were collected from a focus group interview. Using the conventional content analysis approach, key phrases and statements were coded into themes.

Results: The study found that students felt increased competence and confidence when responding to conflict after practicing communication in a safe environment. Based on the opportunity to come to know their colleagues, students recognized that patient safety was a shared goal. Six themes were extracted from the narratives describing their experiences: support for process, patient safety, coming to know colleague, support for tools, respectful collaboration, and barriers to communication.

Conclusions: TeamSTEPPS[sup]TM[/sup] provided a framework for effective and respectful collaboration. A significant barrier identified by students was that these communication techniques were not consistently demonstrated during their clinical experiences. An emphasis on interprofessional communication skills and teamwork should begin in the academic setting and be reinforced in both the formal and hidden curricula.