How well health professionals adapt to the workforce and learn to work in teams is the subject of a longitudinal study now underway involving 600 graduates.

The five-year Longitudinal Interprofessional (LIP) study, being run by the University of Otago in collaboration with Otago Polytechnic and the Eastern Institute of Technology, involves graduates from eight health professions (nursing, dentistry, dietetics, medicine, occupational therapy, oral health, pharmacy, and physiotherapy).

Lead researcher and physiotherapist Dr Ben Darlow says there is a real lack of data about how new health professionals adapt to the workforce and learn to work in healthcare teams. The LIP study will explore attitudes and skills related to interprofessional practice, as well as early career trajectories and influences on these.

The study involves whole year groups from each discipline and first surveyed the students before they started their final year of training (in 2015 or 2016) and continued with yearly surveys until their third year of professional practice (either 2018 or 2019). About 130 of the participants went through the Tairāwhiti Interprofessional Education (TIPE) Programme (based on the East Coast) and part of the research is comparing attitudes to collaborative team work between the TIPE graduates and the other graduates.

Darlow said keeping track of the graduates as they start work and keeping them engaged with the study was a real challenge, but also an exciting opportunity. To date it has had on average around an 80 per cent response rate to its annual survey of graduates. The next survey is due out in October, with the survey questions adaptable for graduates who may have changed clinical field, career or are taking a break.

Nurses make up 13 per cent of study participants. The average nurse participant age at graduation was 23 years old and 99 per cent were female.

Jennifer Roberts, head of EIT’s School of Nursing, said it was fortunate that TIPE allowed its nursing students the opportunities to learn alongside other health professional students, particularly as interprofessional health care and quality improvement is a key competence for registered nurses.

More information is at the study website


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