How powerful testimony helps develop future practitioners

One of the attractions for students joining programmes within our College of Health and Social Care is our five-year Inter-Professional Learning (IPL) strategy. IPL co-lead Tim Howell, Senior Lecturer in Youth Work, gives an insight of what the IPL can give to our students.

Learning together

The concept of IPL is not new. Over the past ten years, it has become an integral part of many pre- and post-registration health and social care professional programmes throughout the UK. The driver for this rapid growth in IPL activity is the requirement for health and social care graduates to be competent regarding inter-professional collaboration and team working in a variety of settings.

Our IPL includes a comprehensive offer of opportunities for students from our undergraduate and postgraduate programmes to come and learn together. The research tells us that, where students learn effectively across professional disciplines, they can work together effectively across professional disciplines. This has a transformational impact on health and wellbeing outcomes for patients, service users and project beneficiaries. By developing these collaboration skills in all our students, they leave us truly work-ready and able to make a massive impact in their chosen professions.

Last month, our IPL World Café saw first year postgraduate students from therapeutic arts, radiography, occupational therapy, social work, adult and mental health nursing listen to the testimonies of some of the service users from the Experts by Experience group. The aim of the day was to critically engage in stories of health, illness and disability to improve practice and the quality of care provision. It was led by my IPL co-lead, Louise Boole, Senior Lecturer in Post-Registration Nursing.

Powerful and moving

We had a morning of moving and powerful testimonies. Service users shared stories of misdiagnosis, medical negligence, eating disorders, depression and trauma. The students from across the college then discussed these very real and moving experiences with the service users themselves. This helped them to develop their skills in empathy, communication, care and compassion to promote honest dignity in care.

You could have heard a pin drop in the morning, the reaction from the students was superb. You cannot learn this stuff from a textbook. Our experts really brought to life their deeply moving personal stories. It left a lot of anger in the room, which I am confident can be channelled into passion for social change in our practitioners in training.

The IPL programme is a powerful way to support our students in developing a clear professional identity yet embrace others as equal partners, challenging myths and stereotypes and building alliances. This is not easy. When confronted by such challenging situations and experiences, individuals engage in self-reflection and questioning. We believe both identity and practice is reshaped as a result.

Our investment

The College has invested significantly in the IPL offer at the University of Derby. At undergraduate level, this includes:

  • A comprehensive online induction
  • A case study conference in the second year
  • Final-year leadership workshops where students are trained to lead effective multi-professional teams

Postgraduate students receive:

  • An induction conference
  • Our experts-by-experience IPL World Café
  • The same leadership workshops as the undergraduates

Throughout their programmes of studies our students are taught in inter-professional teams who then have ongoing discussion, debate and support online, through Microsoft Teams. The IPL offer in the college is co-created by the IPL Forum. This is a collaboration where academics and students from across the College work in partnership to design opportunities that really enhance the student experience for the College. This creates amazing opportunities for those students. This inclusive empowering approach is deliberate and mirrors the principles of person-centred care where the voice of the patient or service user is integral to effectiveness.

Broad range

The College includes a broad range of programmes, some exploring academic subjects while many providing professional qualifications preparing students for specific disciplines. These include health-based disciplines, such as nursing, radiography and occupational therapy, alongside disciplines such as therapeutic arts, social work and youth work.

The College is growing with many work-based programmes for hospital roles such as Nursing Associates. As a result, the IPL offer enables students to connect with an exceptionally broad range of disciplines.

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