Using the Freeth/Kirkpatrick model to evaluate interprofessional learning outcomes in a rural setting
Background: Considerable claims have been made for the benefits of interprofessional learning (IPL) despite limited evidence of its long-term effectiveness. A collaboration between the Australian National University and the University of South Australia offered opportunities for senior health professional students to undertake IPL teamwork placements in rural NSW—the Health “Hubs and Spokes” Project. The aim of this study was to evaluate, using mixed methods, the outcomes of an IPL project on all four levels of the Freeth/Kirkpatrick evaluation model.
Methods: Students completed a debriefing questionnaire, the Interprofessional Education Perception Scale (IEPS) and the Team Performance Scale (TPS) at the time they undertook IPL placements. A follow-up study measured anticipated professional networks and extent of their interprofessional experience. IPL facilitators, clinical supervisors and local health service representatives were asked to provide their views of perceived project outcomes.
Results: Initial evaluation demonstrated positive student reaction (Level 1), attitude change and collaborative skills (Level 2). While the follow-up study failed to show significant changes in the size of expected professional networks, qualitative exploration of transfer of learning to professional practice (Level 3) and impact of IPL placements in rural locations (Level 4) suggest a positive impact on participants and on healthcare delivery.
Conclusion: The project generated student satisfaction, changes in attitude and skills, and longer-term positive impacts on the community and possibly on the students’ professional practice. This evaluation model can be used effectively to evaluate outcomes of IPL teamwork placements in rural settings and potentially in other locations.
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