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Finding and Filling the “GAPS” in Developing Interprofessional Faculty Teachers

Continuing and Professional Development Blog

April 2017

Whether within our own institution, across our collaborations with other institutions, regionally or internationally, our work in fostering interprofessional (IP) faculty development routinely uncovers recurring “gaps”. These gaps are not individual or professional flaws or insurmountable challenges to IP faculty development, but relatively common themes that must be understood and addressed to create successful IP teaching teams. There is no obvious signpost to identify these themes: you must listen carefully to what new IP teachers say to access these common opportunities for development.

Examples:

  • “I value the idea of having someone from another profession run this session, but will people assume that if I let that happen that I then don’t have sufficient expertise?”
  • “What if the facilitator from that other professions doesn’t understand our common teaching goals?  Will that person simply ‘take over’ the session?”
  • “I agree with these common, IP learning objectives, but can you also include learning objectives that are specific to MY learners:  see my example below.”
  • “We think it’s great that we’ll collaborate on this education project, but we want to be sure that our profession is contributing stuff, as much as we are getting from the experience.”

What themes are inferred by these quotes? Is there a poorly veiled hidden curriculum behind these positive expressions? Our experience suggests that there may be: despite an authentic belief in the value and necessity of IP education (and clinical practice), there may be a concern for being valued, respected, and recognized as a member of one’s profession. 

Traditional hierarchies and historical training silos contribute to these concerns. Yet, our professional identity is a valued part of us, one that needs to be maintained as we evolve and nurture new IP roles, providing our special expertise in the shared goal of IP teaching.

Creating a safe space to respect and learn from other professions is one of the common gaps that we routinely address when we seek to bring a group of faculty members together to train as IP teaching teams. In fact, this is often one of the first steps in creating opportunities for shared understanding, and crucial to address before the real work of planning and implementing IP curricula.

There are a variety of ways to create this space and reinforce uni-professional value, while fostering an IP environment. They generally do not depend on introductions of professional titles, expertise, or responsibilities.  If anything, that formal approach might enlarge the gap! 

We must continue to creatively use methods to rely on and build mutuality and respect:  through appreciative inquiry, attention to and exploration of the basis of bias, shared stories of challenge, novel collective challenges, and communal efforts at building innovative ways of teaching and practicing. 

This theme of the importance of individual respect and professional value, and concern for potential devaluation, is one “gap” that must be filled before truly cohesive IP teams can be developed and grow.