This paper proposes the clinical setting as an ideal learning environment for the development of skills conducive to collaborative practice. The argument is supported by findings from a small evaluation study. One cohort of physiotherapy students (n = 43) were surveyed immediately prior to their graduation in 1997, regarding their experience of the availability and quality of interprofessional learning opportunities in the various clinical placement areas, that comprised the final and intensive component of their clinical education programme. Their perception of interprofessional learning processes and outcomes was explored and their views as to factors that facilitated or inhibited their learning elicited. Interprofessional learning opportunities were available across the practice spectrum with a slightly more positive 'snapshot' of collaborative practice in the acute sector depicted. Case conferences, team meetings, ward rounds and discharge planning were confirmed as important interprofessional learning activities. Innovative methods of promoting collaborative practice and prerequisite skills, used currently by therapists, acting as clinical educators, emerged as potential strategies for interprofessional clinical education. The importance of the educational skill and orientation of the clinical educator in nurturing team skills development in students was highlighted.
- Clinical learning environment
- team skill development
- collaborative practice
- interprofessional learning opportunities in the clinical setting
- clinicians as educators