More than 1800 first year health sciences students at Curtin University are receiving a head start on teamwork as they embark on Australia’s first fully integrated interprofessional (IPE) education program this semester.
Health sciences students across all 19 undergraduate disciplines ranging from speech pathology to biomedical science will work together as a collaborative team from day one of their education at Curtin.
They will learn with, from, and about each other, sharing the knowledge, skills and attitudes necessary to achieve the best outcomes for clients.
Faculty of Health Sciences’ Pro Vice-Chancellor, Professor Jill Downie, said the cutting-edge curriculum recognised the need to change the way health professionals are educated to prepare them for the ever-changing health and social demands globally, and to improve the services provided to the community.
“Health professionals working as an effective team is a critical element in achieving the best outcomes for clients, families, and communities,” Professor Jill Downie said.
“However, surprisingly, the need for teamwork is not a concept that is widely taught in higher education.
“Our new program will ensure our graduates understand their profession is not an isolated area of knowledge and skills, but that they have an important role to play as part of a healthcare team to ensure the delivery of improved safety and quality in health and social care services.”
IPE approaches are being taught in many other areas in health sciences at Curtin, with students over several years having had the opportunity to take part in fieldwork placements with industry partners who support innovative models of care, both in Australia and overseas.
Recently, health sciences students were the first to engage in Australia’s first ‘real life’ IPE student training ward at Royal Perth Hospital (RPH).
Health sciences students can also take part in an IPE healthcare team challenge competition that aims to build stronger, client focused healthcare teams for the future and in an annual conference which showcases best practice IPE education and research initiatives in Western Australia.
Western Australia’s Chief Medical Officer, Dr Simon Towler, supports IPE education.
“It is critical in addressing some of the key challenges currently facing the healthcare sector, including the escalating demand for services and workforce shortages,” Dr Towler said.
“We need to focus on developing health professionals’ communication skills and integrate problem-based case studies into health education – IPE education is no longer an option, it is a requirement.”