Learning to swallow together: Medical and speech and language therapy student interprofessional learning about dysphagia

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Kelly, Helen
Cronin, Maireád
Hynes, Helen
Duxbury, Sarah
Twomey, Orlaith
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BACKGROUND: Interprofessional education (IPE) is considered to be a necessary step in preparing the healthcare workforce for collaborative patient care. Dysphagia, a complex health condition, requires collaboration between disciplines such as medicine (MED) and speech and language therapy (SLT). Therefore, both disciplines must have a shared understanding of dysphagia management within the context of interprofessional care. OBJECTIVE: This study investigated MED and SLT students’ shared learning about dysphagia management following an IPE workshop. The student experience of IPE was also explored. METHODS: Fifty students participated in one 3-hour classroom-based IPE dysphagia workshop which was appraised through a questionnaire completed immediately before and following the workshop. Within- and Between-Group analysis evaluated change in knowledge about dysphagia management. Comments related to student learning experiences were examined using a qualitative description approach. RESULTS: 98%of students (24 MED; 25 SLT) completed pre- and post-workshop questionnaires. Wilcoxon Signed-Rank tests indicated statistically significant post-workshop growth in knowledge of symptoms (p < 0.001) and medical conditions (p < 0.001) related to dysphagia. Students reported increased confidence in their ability to identify dysphagia (p < 0.001). Greater understanding of interprofessional roles was observed post-workshop, notably nursing (p < 0.05), pharmacy (p < 0.05), occupational therapy (p < 0.05) and physiotherapy (p < 0.001). While recognised as beneficial to shared learning and appreciation of different discipline perspectives, both cohorts found IPE challenging. CONCLUSIONS: Classroom-based IPE is an appropriate approach for shared learning about complex health conditions which require interprofessional care. Including patient-facing activities would further enhance student learning. While students found IPE challenging, they identified several benefits related to their professional development.
Inter-professional education , Inter-professional learning , IPE , Dysphagia , Speech and language therapy , Medicine
Kelly, H., Cronin, M., Hynes, H., Duxbury, S. and Twomey, O. (2021) ‘Learning to swallow together: Medical and speech and language therapy student interprofessional learning about dysphagia’, Advances in Communication and Swallowing, 24(1), pp. 21–32. https://doi.org/10.3233/ACS-210027
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