Sustainable interprofessional learning on clinical placements: the value of observing others at work

Fiona Kent, Sharon Glass, Jade Courtney, Jo Thorpe, Gillian Nisbet

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


Clinical placements have the potential to offer meaningful interprofessional learning opportunities for pre-registration students. Informal, as opposed to structured interprofessional learning opportunities, may offer a sustainable solution to the challenges of scheduling formal interprofessional programs in the workplace. To investigate this concept, students on clinical placement from a range of professions were invited to observe another profession undertake a patient consultation, after which they completed a standardized reflective tool. A grounded theory research design was used to explore the educational value of the one-off interprofessional observations, through an analysis of student written reflections (n = 79) and staff perceptions collected by interview (n = 11). The qualitative data was iteratively analyzed throughout the study period. A range of learning outcomes were described post student observations, ranging from knowledge or skills that informed profession-specific practice, to how others’ roles related to patient needs, and the need for collaboration in order to provide high quality care. Staff orientation and facilitated reflection contributed to student learning. Positive learning value, though varying in depth, was identified through single interprofessional observations. Informal activities offer a sustainable interprofessional learning strategy that can be embedded into clinical placements; additional informal learning activities now warrant investigation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)812-818
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Interprofessional Care
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2020


  • Informal learning
  • interprofessional learning
  • grounded theory

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