Although challenging to integrate within university curricula, evidence suggests that interprofessional education (IPE) positively impacts communication and teamwork skills in the workplace. The nature of Team-based learning (TBL) lends itself to interprofessional education, with the capacity to foster a culture of collaboration among health professional students. Our study was designed to pilot an interprofessional ‘back pain’ TBL module for physiotherapy and medical students, and to explore their experience of the TBL process, using the conceptual framework of ‘knowledge reconsolidation’ to discuss our finding.
Three hundred and eleven students participated in the TBL session: 222/277 (80%) of Year 1 medical students and 89/89 (100%) of Year 2 physiotherapy students. Students completed one interprofessional Musculoskeletal Sciences TBL session on the topic of ‘back pain’. A questionnaire including closed and open-ended items, was distributed to students immediately following completion of the TBL session. Descriptive statistics were used to analyse the quantitative data. Thematic analysis was used to code and categorise qualitative data into themes. Pre-class quiz scores were compared between the groups using a one-way between groups Analysis of Variance (ANOVA) test with Tukeys Post Hoc test.
In total, 117/311 (38%) of participants completed the questionnaire. Both medicine and physiotherapy students appreciated the opportunity to learn about the curriculum of another healthcare discipline, and their scope of practice; gain multiple perspectives on a patient case from different disciplines; and recognised the importance of multidisciplinary teams in patient care. Students felt having an interprofessional team of facilitators who provided immediate feedback helped to consolidate student learning and promoted clinical reasoning. An analysis of variance revealed no difference between Physiotherapy and Medical students’ pre-class quiz scores.
Our study demonstrated that the small group and task-focused characteristics of TBL provided a student-centred teaching strategy to support the achievement of interprofessional learning goals. Students valued their interactions with other students from a different professional degree, the opportunity to problem solve together, and learn different perspectives on a patient case. The pre-class quiz results demonstrate that both groups of students had a comparative level of prior knowledge to be able to work together on the in-class activities.