Showcase Higher Education Research and Development Society of Australasia 2015

Learning through simulation to Immerse students in Interprofessional practice (#127)

Karen Livesay 1 , Christine Spratt 1 , Christine Armatas 2 , Roger Funk 1 , Roger Gabb 1
  1. Victoria University, St Albans, VIC, Australia
  2. Education Development Centre, The Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Kowloon, Hong Kong


The importance of Interprofessional practice (IPP) capability in health practitioners has been recognised for 2 decades internationally. In Australia, the World Health Organisation’s 2010 report unequivocally established the evidential benefits of Interprofessional learning and practice.

Following a competitive grant process this University was awarded funds to develop an Interprofessional education program across 10 health disciplines culminating in an IPP experience. The curriculum transitions students through 3 modules; classes, simulation and practice. This paper presents the results of an evaluation of the simulation module, Immerse.

The initiative

In 2014, the Immerse module was conducted with 814 students. Immerse was designed as a four-hour interactive immersive simulation workshop. The size of the student cohort warranted a complex strategy to accommodate the student load; over 40 workshops and 14 facilitators

Data collection and analysis

A mixed method approach congruent with an overall evaluation plan for the program was developed and approved by the Ethics Committee. A purpose designed survey instrument was developed for students and staff. Additionally a student focus group and staff interviews were conducted. 267 students completed the survey and descriptive analysis of the survey data was undertaken. Focus group and interview data was thematically analysed.

Evidence of effectiveness

Students felt they learned something about Interprofessional practice that was new to them. They agreed that the learning activities had helped them achieve the learning outcomes. However students didn’t feel the simulation helped them learn how to manage conflict. Although feedback from staff interviews suggests students challenged one another effectively and constructively. The focus group commentary showed students learned more about other health professionals than they learned about their own professional identity.

Addressing the theme/s 

Health care provision is complex and rapidly changing. Health disciplines learn largely in isolation of one another despite the common core values and overlap of knowledge (Engum & Jeffries, 2012). Learning in silos can foster misunderstanding and hamper teamwork and communication (McNair, 2005). The Institute of medicine advocated Interprofessional education as a means to prepare healthcare practitioners for the complexities of real world practice. Preventable medical error, resulting in death is  attributable in part to communication lapses (Institute of Medicine, 2000). Interprofessional teamwork is recommended as a core concept in addressing healthcare error and poor health care outcomes (Engum & Jeffries, 2012).

This abstract meets the conference sub-themes of educating graduates to be responsive and adaptable professionals as the Interprofessional education program aims to break down disciplinary silos and actively engage students learning with from and about each other. Interprofessional capabilities that drive the curriculum include Interprofessional teamwork, Interprofessional communication, navigating Interprofessional conflict, professional roles and identities and critical reflection on practice.

In addition this initiative relates to the theme of navigating uncertainty and complexity. The logistics of development and delivery of an educational module that cuts across 10 health disciplines located on separate sites. Students leave the safety of their individual disciplines and come together in interdisciplinary groups in which they examine the changing dynamic amongst team members and the complexity of boundaries and role overlap.