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Collaboration to Improve NZ's Healthcare

Health Practitioners and Educators Collaborate to Improve NZ's Healthcare

An interprofessional practice and learning action group has been established to consider and promote ways to improve collaboration and communication between health care professionals, and to bridge the widening gap between health service provision and health professional education. It is anticipated one initiative of the group will be the instigation of a pilot project across several health education faculties and District Health Boards to encourage interprofessional teamwork and decision-making.

The action group arose out of a recent Forum entitled ‘Interprofessional Learning and Practice: Creating a Centre of Gravity’, held at Auckland University of Technology’s Faculty of Health on February 3rd and 4th 2004. One hundred and fifteen delegates attended the Forum, which included a strong contingent from Australia. Forum organisers and hosts were Dr Robin Youngson (Clinical Leader Waitakere Hospital, Clinical leader of Workforce Development, WHDB) Janice Mueller (Director Allied Health, ADHB) and Wendy Horne (Associate Dean (Academic), Faculty of Health, AUT). “The vision for the Forum was to bring together people from across health sectors and professions including primary and secondary care, tertiary health education and professional bodies to explore future possibilities for Interprofessional learning and practice, and we were overwhelmed by the response, “ says Wendy Horne.

The keynote speaker was Professor Debra Humphris from the University of Southampton, UK, Director of the New Generation Project, an ambitious and challenging initiative that focuses on the development and implementation of an integrated model of interprofessional learning for all health professional students studying at the University of Southampton and University of Portsmouth.

The Forum showcased leading edge interprofessional learning and practice initiatives occurring within the Auckland region. An interprofessional education initiative ‘in development’ within the Faculty of Health, Auckland University of Technology (AUT), research ‘in progress’ on the impact the subcultures of nursing and medicine will have on interprofessional education from The University of Auckland and WDHB and ADHB each described innovative and effective interprofessional models of care they are implementing within their services; one in maternity services at Waitakere Hospital and one in allied health services at Auckland City Hospital.

“Such collaboration and communication is seen as a solution to many health care problems. Increasingly, diverse and complex healthcare needs and services require skills and knowledge that no one individual discipline alone can hope to meet. In some sectors this has been recognised and there has been a conscious effort to move toward more respectful and consultative ways of working,” says Wendy Horne

Forum delegates came from across a range of disciplines such as nurses, doctors, occupational therapists, physiotherapists, clinical psychologists, mental health workers, midwives, researchers, social workers, nutritionists, speech language therapists, psychotherapists, paramedics and more. As expected they came from a broad range of health sector areas: acute care services, rehabilitation services, District Health Boards, private provider organisations, mental health services, social work departments, laboratories, disability services, oncology departments, maternity and midwifery services, clinical information services, libraries, emergency services and more.

Five tertiary education institutions were represented and there were representatives from the Health Workforce Advisory Committee (HWAC), Ministry of Health, Ministry of Education Special Services and District Health Boards of New Zealand (DHBNZ).

The Forum organisers, who are forming the caucus of the action group, were invited to present the outcomes at a Ministry of Health meeting in Wellington last week. The meeting provided an important opportunity to explore the vital connections between health and education in creating the nations future health workforce. As a result of discussions at this meeting the action group intends to apply for a significant grant to support a pilot programme in interprofessional learning and practice across interested health education faculties and District Health Boards.

The action group is currently made up of 31 people from across the health sector who were delegates at the Forum however the group welcomes anyone who has a keen interest in promoting quality care through interprofessional learning and practice.

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