McMaster University

McMaster University

Funding Within Faculty of Health Sciences — Project 3

Project 3 — Institute of Interprofessional Health Sciences Education

Web: Institute of Interprofessional Health Sciences Education

Principal Investigator

  • Dr. Patty Solomon, Professor, School of Rehabilitation Science, McMaster University


  • Dr. Sue Baptiste, Professor, Occupational Therapy, McMaster University
  • Dr. Carole Orchard, Associate Professor; Director, Office of Interprofessional Health Education and Research, University of Western Ontario
  • Dr. Pippa Hall, Assistant Professor and Program Director in the Department of Family Medicine, University of Ottawa
  • Dr. Ellen Rukholm, Professor, School of Nursing, Laurentian University
  • Dr. Robert Luke, Council of Ontario Universities; Director, Office of Research and Innovation, George Brown College

Goals & Objectives

The overall goal of the project was to facilitate interprofessional collaboration in educational and practice settings through the use of web-based and team based learning activities. The Institute of Interprofessional Health Sciences Education has built a virtual network of expertise to develop knowledge, skills and attitudes, and to promote cultural change in health science students and clinicians. The IIHSE is currently comprised of faculty from four Ontario universities and one college: McMaster University, University of Ottawa, University of Western Ontario, Laurentian University and George Brown College. Production of the on-line modules has been made possible through a financial contribution from Health Canada. The views expressed herein do not necessarily represent the views of Health Canada.


Pre-licensure Student Stream

Eight on-line modules were developed and these were piloted during 2006-2008. Each module was facilitated by a trained Online Facilitator who was either a faculty member or a doctoral student with clinical background. They received a training manual and were offered a 1-hr training session via teleconference with an experienced facilitator from Ottawa.

Students from 10 different professions participated in interactive, facilitated modules which focused on foundational skills (e.g., communication, ethics and evidence-based practice) and more specific practice issues (palliative care, aboriginal health, community practice and health promotion). Quantitative and qualitative evaluations demonstrated that the learning modules were engaging and enable students to learn with, from and about each other in a virtual environment. Student felt it was useful to problem-solve together, recognized the importance of communication and avoiding jargon, and were able to relate their collaborative experiences to quality care for patients, a cornerstone of patient-centred practice.

Student learning was highly dependent on the role of the on-line facilitators, who were trained to role model interprofessional collaboration and make explicit IPE links. The facilitators identified barriers and facilitators to IPE related to group composition, previous clinical experience, maturity level, competing demands on students' time and technology. Preparation of the facilitator and provision of ongoing support emerged as important contributors to the process.

Practice Stream

The Practice Stream targeted health providers who learned how to role model effective team behaviours and facilitate these behaviours both in-house and with learners from the various professions. Each of the four universities recruited a clinical partner to participate in the development and piloting of the Practice Stream. These clinical sites were diverse and included a public health unit, a rehabilitation institution, an Aboriginal health centre, and an acute care unit at a teaching hospital. There were two team-based modules used in this project. One group in Ottawa used a 6-part module in French; the other teams used an English 4-part module prepared by one of the investigators from London, ON.

The teams participated in a blended team development process. The health care providers independently viewed modules designed to assist their team in becoming more interprofessional and collaborative, and engaged in face-to-face discussions guided by an Interprofessional Education Facilitator (IPEF). The IPEFs participated in a one-day training workshop and also had a training manual.

A significant strength of the practice stream was the development and use of within agency facilitators (IPEFs) whose preparation and experience were key to promoting learning among team members. Clinicians reported gaining a better understanding of how other health professionals fit into the team. This project created interprofessional practice champions within the agencies involved with this project.

Current Status

Use of our high-quality interactive IPE e-learning modules was able to address one of the common barriers to IPE, conflicting timetables and schedules. While the research project to develop, pilot and evaluate these online modules for students and team-based modules for health providers was completed in March, 2008, the work of the IIHSE continues. Dissemination of these modules and creation of more modules are underway.

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