Multi-disciplinary education within the health care professions
The aim of this study was to investigate the perceptions held by health care professionals, of multi -disciplinary education. In addition, possible areas for the development of a multi-disciplinary approach were identified. The research focused on the views of nurses, physiotherapists, radiographers, speech therapists and occupational therapists. The study adopted a case study methodology, incorporating a mixed-method approach in terms of data collection. A questionnaire was used to review the perceptions of multi-disciplinary education amongst health care professionals, and interviews were then conducted with a sample of the respondents to explore their views further. From the outset, the research process assumed a multi-disciplinary perspective. During the study it became clear that organisational and professional factors were important influences on how health care professionals perceived multidisciplinary education. The research appeared to indicate that the idea of "multidisciplinary education" is a problematic concept and that multi-disciplinary education is acceptable, where it is appropriate. Most of the professions involved recognised the benefits of the process, but were anxious to protect the integrity of each individual profession, in the long term. Moreover, they maintained that the medical profession needs to be included in the process. The organisational findings were, primarily, that multi-disciplinary education might benefit from a cross-agency approach. Perhaps significantly, it was suggested that multi-disciplinary education should be introduced at the pre-registration stage. It was apparent that teamwork does not always occur in practice and that this was an area that could be a focus for multidisciplinary education. The research concluded that there should be joint ownership of any multi-disciplinary education programme across professions and organisations.