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Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Are female students in general and nursing students more ready for teamwork and interprofessional collaboration in healthcare?

Margaretha Wilhelmsson1*, Sari Ponzer2, Lars-Ove Dahlgren3, Toomas Timpka1 and Tomas Faresjö1

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Medical and Health Sciences/Community Medicine, Faculty of Health Sciences, Linköping University, SE-581 83 Linköping, Sweden

2 Department of Clinical Science and Education, Södersjukhuset, Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden

3 Department of Behavioural Sciences and Learning, Faculty of Arts and Science, Linköping University, SE-581 83 Linköping, Sweden

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BMC Medical Education 2011, 11:15  doi:10.1186/1472-6920-11-15

Published: 21 April 2011

Abstract

Background

Interprofessional Education (IPE) is now spreading worldwide and many universities are now including IPE in their curricula. The aim of this study was to investigate whether or not such student characteristics as gender, previous working experience in healthcare, educational progress and features of the learning environment, such as educational programmes and curriculum design, have an impact on their open-mindedness about co-operation with other professions.

Methods

Medical and nursing students at two Swedish universities were invited to fill in the Readiness for Interprofessional Learning Scale (RIPLS). Totally, 955 students were invited and 70.2% (n = 670) participated in the study. A factor analysis of the RIPLS revealed four item groupings (factors) for our empirical data, but only one had sufficient internal consistency. This factor was labelled "Team Player".

Results

Regardless of the educational programme, female students were more positive to teamwork than male students. Nursing students in general displayed more positive beliefs about teamwork and collaboration than medical students. Exposure to different interprofessional curricula and previous exposure to interprofessional education were only to a minor extent associated with a positive attitude towards teamwork. Educational progress did not seem to influence these beliefs.

Conclusions

The establishment of interprofessional teamwork is a major challenge for modern healthcare. This study indicates some directions for more successful interprofessional education. Efforts should be directed at informing particularly male medical students about the need for teamwork in modern healthcare systems. The results also imply that study of other factors, such as the student's personality, is needed for fully understanding readiness for teamwork and interprofessional collaboration in healthcare. We also believe that the RIPL Scale still can be further adjusted.