Collaborative practice through the cultural lens of international Allied Health and Nursing students

Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstractpeer-review


Clinical practice demands that health profession graduates demonstrate competency in both individual practice and teamwork. Culturally and linguistically diverse students in health professional courses have different language and cultural orientation than local peers and supervisors. Increased challenges to
interprofessional teamwork have been described for this cohort, but not investigated.
This study explored culturally specific experiences of international students working in interprofessional teams in clinical settings, to inform facilitation of confidence and competence in collaborative practice.
A qualitative exploratory research design was adopted. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with educators and final year international students in dietetics, nursing, physiotherapy and occupational therapy at Monash University. Interviews were audiotaped, transcribed and analysed using a constructivist approach.
Results and discussion:
Four themes emerged from four educator and 16 student interviews. Asian students reported entering clinical placement with an expected hierarchy between medical, nursing and allied health professionals, which contributed to their hesitation to voice opinions. Some were self-critical, describing a lack of flexibility in language and difficulties in engaging in informal conversations with team members, thus impacting on work relationships. Asian students were described by educators as respectful of others and less likely to ask questions or challenge decisions. The role of clinical supervisors was critical in addressing cultural
differences and providing coaching for collaborative teamwork skill development.
International students presented with unique cultural orientations in communication, power relationships and interactions, which impacted on their perception of collaborative practice. Clinical supervisors are key in
coaching students in collaborative skills development.


ConferenceAustralian & New Zealand Association for Health Professional Educators Conference 2020
Abbreviated titleANZAHPE 2020
OtherTheme: Vision for Learning Cultures Conference
Internet address


  • collaborative practice
  • Allied health
  • fieldwork placements

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