An interprofessional team of maternity care providers and academics developed a pilot interprofessional education (IPE) program in maternity care for undergraduate students in nursing, midwifery and medicine. There are few published studies examining IPE programs in maternity care, particularly at the undergraduate level, that examine long-term outcomes. This paper outlines findings from a case study that explored how participation in an IPE program in maternity care may enhance student knowledge, skills/attitudes, and may promote their collaborative behavior in the practice setting. The program was launched at a Canadian urban teaching hospital and consisted of six workshops and two clinical shadowing experiences. Twenty-five semi-structured, in-depth interviews were completed with nine participants at various time points up to 20 months post-program. Qualitative analysis of transcripts revealed the emergence of four themes: relationship-building, confident communication, willingness to collaborate and woman/family-centered care. Participant statements about their intentions to continue practicing interprofessional collaboration more than a year post-program lend support to its sustained effectiveness. The provision of a safe learning environment, the use of small group learning techniques with mixed teaching strategies, augmented by exposure to an interprofessional faculty, contributed to the program's perceived success.
Collaborative patient-centred care has the potential to address serious issues in the Canadian health-care system such as those related to increasing complexity of care; patient safety and access; and recruitment and retention of health human resources. This approach involves teams of health professionals working together to provide more coordinated and comprehensive care to clients. It places priority on the preferences of the patient and fosters respect for the skills and perspectives of all health-care providers. Interprofessional education at the undergraduate, graduate and practice levels is essential for facilitating the transition to team-based care. The author presents the rationale for collaborative care and describes an interprofessional education project at Memorial University of Newfoundland that is preparing students and health professionals for this groundbreaking change in practice.