The majority of interprofessional learning literature focuses on initiatives within pre-clinical or simulated learning environments, with a paucity of research exploring the variation in impact of exposure to nurses and other health professionals in different health care settings. This study aimed to explore the experiences and attitudes of medical students following scheduled placements in palliative and rehabilitative care units. Three focus groups were conducted by researchers independent of the clinical school, to explore the attitudes of first clinical year medical students towards, and experiences of, a clinical placement that provided the opportunity to develop interprofessional skills. Students responded differently to the expectation put upon them to initiate their own learning experiences. A number of students felt that being asked to focus on clinical skill development conflicted with the assessment demands of the medical curriculum. This, in turn, contributed to a missed opportunity for them to learn with, from and about nurses and other health professionals. The driver of assessment was seen to be more important to their training. This emphasises the importance of including an assessment of interprofessional skills if we want to ensure students achieve these skills. If medical students are not going to be assessed on interprofessional knowledge, skills and attitudes then a curriculum orientation to the value of interprofessional practice is required.