Non-Clinician Involvement in Online Interprofessional Health Sciences Education: Educator Experiences and Attitudes



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Background: Interprofessional education (IPE) occurs when students from different health professions learn about, from, and with each other. These educational experiences foster effective collaboration in professional settings with the goal of improving health outcomes. IPE adoption has not been ubiquitous, likely due to logistical barriers including a lack of facilitators and the need to move education online due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Little research on this topic has incorporated health sciences librarians and other non-clinicians. Purpose: The purpose of this study was to assess educator views on the knowledge, skills, and abilities needed by IPE facilitators and to explore their attitudes toward and experiences with non-clinician facilitators of online IPE activities, particularly health sciences librarians. The following research questions guided this study: 1) What knowledge, skills, and abilities do health sciences educators deem necessary for facilitators of IPE activities? 2) What are health sciences educators’ experiences with and attitudes toward non-clinician facilitators of IPE activities? 3) What are health sciences educators’ experiences with and attitudes toward health sciences librarians in particular as facilitators of IPE activities? 4) How do these factors differ for in-person as compared to online settings? Methods: This qualitative study was carried out utilizing a novel questionnaire that included both multiple-choice and free-text questions. The latter were grounded in critical incident technique (CIT), a research methodology that uses direct observations of human behavior to solve practical problems. CIT research asks participants to recall and describe a time when a phenomenon of interest occurred. It was utilized in this study to identify what general factors, and what characteristics of facilitators, are associated with successful IPE activities. The questionnaire was distributed electronically to the study’s population of health sciences administrators, faculty, and staff in Texas who were involved with IPE. There were 48 responses. The multiple-choice data were analyzed via descriptive statistics, while the free-text data were coded and analyzed via inductive thematic analysis principles. Results: Educators recognized a wide range of characteristics needed by IPE facilitators but viewed interpersonal skills as the most important. They had substantial experience with online IPE and recognized the importance of engagement when utilizing that format. They also had considerable experience with non-clinician facilitators of IPE activities but less with health sciences librarians. Educator attitudes toward online IPE and non-clinician facilitators of IPE, including librarians, were positive. Conclusion: The findings of this study indicated that non-clinicians can build upon their existing skillsets and increase their involvement with IPE. They can make the case at their institutions that interpersonal skills and the ability to elicit engagement are more important to IPE than a clinical background. Proper facilitator training will help to ensure success. Utilizing online formats and having a larger pool of facilitators from which to draw can increase the incidence of IPE, resulting in more collaborative care and improved patient outcomes.



Collaborative practice, Critical incident technique, Interprofessional education, Health sciences librarians, Health sciences librarianship