Interprofessional learning (IPL) is designed to promote teamwork between members of different disciplines. In order to provide the best care for patients, individuals from different areas of healthcare (e.g. a physiotherapist and a social worker) will collaborate during treatment (Parsell & Bligh, 1998). The two main objectives are to promote an understanding of the roles of other healthcare professionals and to develop teamworking skills. In a time when the roles of healthcare workers are less defined, ILP can be an important way to efficiently care for patients (Parsell & Bligh, 1998). The aims of this assignment will be to look at teamwork (in theory and first-hand) and to evaluate my strengths/weaknesses within the group. A team activity was devised involving a Top Trumps-style card game where healthcare statistics of cities across the UK were used to display the inequality of health/social care provisions across the UK. A role playing presentation was used to show how professional collaboration could be used in treating patients.
Role and functions of a team
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We set about the three stages of building the team, catering to individual needs and achieving the task (Adair, 1986). Whilst building the team, we considered factors such as roles within the group, motivation, and the most effective way to communicate. Four stages of building a team from individuals have been identified (Tuckman, 1965): 1) Forming (enthusiasm, ambition and anxiety concerning our roles within the group. 2) Storming (conflicts can arise). 3) Norming (resolution of conflicts and a clearer vision). 4) Performing (clarity of roles within the team). Examples of each of these stages were seen during the first week; however I feel that we quickly began to work as a team. We progressed by using ‘ice-breaking’ sessions to get to know each other (including electronic WIKI sessions on Skype), by discussing our knowledge of IPL and setting ground rules for the team. Discussing the individual needs within the team we considered particular strengths of individuals, which allowed us to assign individual tasks. I represented my own area of study and took on the role of an occupational therapist. Whilst discussing how to achieve the tasks we ensured that they were clearly defined and allocated sub-tasks accordingly. We ensured that tasks could be done to the appropriate standard within the timeframe and checked progress of tasks against the plan, making adjustments along the way if necessary.
Individual role and my contribution to the team
We identified three roles were necessary in the team: leader, thinker and achiever. The leader should ensure motivation and clarity on the tasks, the thinker should collect and analyse information about the task and the achiever might ensure that work is done to an acceptable standard. I was chosen as the thinker within the group. My role was to decide the game for the first activity and to research the necessary data for this game. I decided to use a version of the card game Top Trumps, where statistics such as life expectancy and infant deaths from cities across the UK were played against each other. In this way inequalities in healthcare between cities could be quickly discovered. In particular we highlighted the differences in healthcare provisions between rural and urban areas, using Newcastle and Portsmouth as examples. During week 2, we demonstrated how IPL can be used for the benefit of a patient with a role playing activity. Here we planned treatment for a patient who had suffered injuries during a suspected suicide attempt. Members of the team from different healthcare disciplines met to discuss the best course of treatment. As an Occupational Therapist I proposed treatments such as range of motion exercises and injury support. Medical treatment was also offered by team members from other healthcare disciplines whilst others were able to offer social care advice regarding the suicide attempt. A Peer Assessment was then carried out on each team member. My time management was described as reliable and punctual, although perhaps I could develop my skills at prioritising tasks. Within the group I was found to accept my fair share of the work and provide constructive criticism where necessary. My communication skills were also praised; however perhaps I listened too often when I could have been leading a discussion.
IPL is an effective way of encouraging teamwork with people from other disciplines and in a healthcare capacity can be of great benefit. During this exercise we learned how to build a team, identify individual needs, and use teamwork as the foundation to achieve a task. Using knowledge of (In)equality in healthcare we completed a game activity that demonstrated this theory in practice, whilst the role playing presentation displayed fundamentals of the IPL process. In doing so we saw the effectiveness that interprofessional learning and work can have for the treatment of patients in an increasingly complicated healthcare system.
Parsell, G., Bligh, J. (1998) ‘Interprofessional Learning’, Postgraduate medical journal, 74, pp89-95
Adair, John (1986) Effective Team Building, Aldershot, Gower.
Tuckman, B.W. (1965) Developmental sequence in small groups, Psychological Bulletin, 63 pp.384-99
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