Engaging the Community in Health Professional Education: Inter-professional Placements in Community Agencies
Students learning from, with and about each other is called interprofessional education (IPE). IPE is part of education for many professionals. Ideally, IPE is offered throughout the training and working life of these professionals. Memorial is providing a rich IPE learning series in the classroom. However, it has been harder to find ways to build IPE into the settings where students do their practice placements. A main goal of this project was to find out if Memorial could work with community agencies to include teams of students who would work together on a project based on the needs of the agencies. Community agencies are ideal places for IPE practice experiences because their main focus is on the people they represent. In addition their staff have always had to work together well because they have limited funding and a large mandate. We met with a number of community agencies and representatives from the student programs who might use these placements. We wanted to find out if there is support for having community agency IPE placements and if the community agencies could host the student teams. The feedback we got was that the student programs are interested in having IPE placements in community agencies. However they told us that we need to be careful not to lose the current placements already in place for their students. The community agencies were also keen to move forward with IPE placements. However they noted that students need to be better prepared for the placements so that they can meet the needs of the agency as well as have a good IPE experience.