Learning to learn from each other: the importance of interprofessional  collaboration in healthcare 

Learning from our peers is a vital practice in all areas of professional life, but especially so in a  healthcare setting where there exist so many different team members, each with their own specialised roles. 

Interprofessional learning involves the collaboration of two or more professionals that come from different training backgrounds, for example, a healthcare assistant and a medical student. This form  of working can be beneficial for both parties since it brings together people who possess unique  practical skills and knowledge. 

Training situations demonstrate the strength of this approach well: specialised staff are more likely  to have achieved proficiency in the skills required for their role than someone with a generalised skill set. Therefore, through their experience, they may be able to provide more practical feedback to a  learner. 

An example of my own: my first venepuncture was supervised by the practice HCA, who at that point  had accumulated years of experience taking bloods. I was guided not only on how to improve my  technique for success, but also on how to reduce the patient’s discomfort – by resting their arm  comfortably on an armrest or pillow, distracting the patient by asking them to take a deep breath  before insertion, and by withdrawing the needle at a shallow angle. 

I felt I was able to assist the HCA using the knowledge I had acquired through preclinical years to explain to patients why their blood tests had been requested. 

The benefits of interdisciplinary learning also reach into the future; workers will enter their future  positions with a better understanding of co-workers’ roles and responsibilities. Stronger insight into  each other’s competencies will enable more effective teamwork, such as when delegating appropriate tasks to team members.i 

Interprofessional learning emphasises the importance of teamwork over individual work, an  approach pivotal to a safe and efficient healthcare service. It is crucial for the MDT to share  workload where appropriate to give staff the necessary time to focus on tasks. Gaining a wider  perspective of the team could also discourage the formation of a hierarchy, promoting the team’s  comfort and enabling them to raise their opinions and concerns.ii 

Observing how a wide range of staff interact with their patients may also encourage better practice,  such as by encouraging reflection on how individuals would like to practise in the future. For  example, recognising the importance of making time for patients to discuss their concerns.iii 

An environment that promotes this form of learning is one that encourages communication between  team members, helps us recognise each other’s strengths and the extent of our competencies, therefore promoting patient safety and a healthier working environment. 


i Garnweidner-Holme L, Almendingen K. Is Interprofessional Learning Only Meant for Professions Within  Healthcare? - A Qualitative Analysis of Associations with the Term Interprofessional Collaborative Learning  Among Professional Students. J Multidiscip Healthc. 2022;15:1945-1954 https://doi.org/10.2147/JMDH.S376074

ii Busari JO, Moll FM, Duits AJ. Understanding the impact of interprofessional collaboration on the quality of  care: a case report from a small-scale resource limited health care environment. J Multidiscip Healthc.  2017;10:227-234 https://doi.org/10.2147/JMDH.S140042 

iii Elizabeth Davison, Joanna Semlyen & Susanne Lindqvist (2022) “From doing to knowing”: medical students’  experiences of working as Healthcare Assistants, Journal of Interprofessional Care, 36:4, 560-566, DOI:  10.1080/13561820.2021.1943336

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