Sharing our Strengths: Interprofessional Education with Physical Therapy and Medical Students

Farrugia, Jamie, Parker Branch, and Mary Tracy-Bee

The strength of our health professional students will only be as great as their ability to work with other members of the health care team.  One of our top priorities as professors should be to provide our students opportunities for meaningful interactions with other health professionals as they learn. This type of collaborative learning is known as Interprofessional Education (IPE).  IPE refers to the opportunity for learners from different fields to work collaboratively toward a common understanding as they concurrently learn with, from, and about each other.  In 2010 the LCME set forth a directive that faculty should provide opportunities for interprofessional learning experiences.  Our study investigated first year medical students who were grouped with first year physical therapy doctoral students who learned together in both anatomy lectures and laboratories during the musculoskeletal unit. In a qualitative study, students were asked about their thoughts on their involvement with their colleagues from the other field.  We found that while students had both positive and negative experiences, overall students from both groups benefited from the experience (p<0.05). The potential for interprofessional activities in the anatomy lecture and lab is ripe for opportunities as all medical professions require a sound knowledge of the structure of the human body.  Shared knowledge of the intricacies of the human body sets a common ground for these future team players to synergistically interact as they prepare for careers in the health care field.