A case study: Promoting interprofessional community-based learning opportunities for health sciences students at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, South Africa


Background. Preventing disease and promoting health call for interprofessional collaboration of health professionals working in a team, making it important for student health professionals to experience collaborative teamwork while in training, rather than learning and working in silos.

Objectives. To describe the opinions of participating students and supervising staff in an intraprofessional community-based initiative involving the disciplines of physiotherapy and dentistry at the University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN), Durban, South Africa.

Methods. This was a qualitative descriptive study demonstrating teamwork of students from two health sciences disciplines, giving a joint health education talk to patients at a local community health centre. Data were collected from focus group discussions. Three such discussions were held with purposively selected samples: (i) 5 physiotherapy students; (ii) 6 dental therapy students; and (iii) 6 staff members from both disciplines who supervised the students. These data were analysed using thematic analysis. Ethical approval was obtained from UKZN.

Results. By working collaboratively, the students believed that they learnt more about the other health professionals and obtained a deeper understanding of their roles within the healthcare team. Staff believed that the collaborative project could break down professional barriers to work cohesively in the work environment. The main difficulties encountered were the language barrier and rigid timetables.

Conclusion. This case study provides an example of intraprofessional collaboration and teamwork, capable of positively influencing participating students, emphasising the need for interprofessional learning opportunities for students across all health sciences disciplines while in training.

Research Article

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