The importance of learning from other healthcare professionals: the foundations

Pedagogical theories in Health and Social care have been a fashionable industry. ‘Interprofessional learning’ (IPL) is a pedagogical facet, introduced in the 1980s [1]. IPL has been a semantic surrogate for other terms – interprofessional education (IPE), multi-professional education (MPE) – which has mystified IPL and has made it difficult to implement consistently into clinical education. To wholly appreciate the importance of IPL and theory underpinning it, I wish to clarify the term, and reflect on my experience of IPL as a medical student. 

IPL practices studying “with, from and about each other” [2] to ultimately enhance “collaboration and quality of care”. [2] This suggests IPL is not just an educational movement involving multiple healthcare professionals but must include contribution from each member to accomplish learning outcomes. It is also neither learning the same material nor being lectured by other healthcare professional, which ‘MPE’ implies.  

IPL possesses distinctive characteristics: it integrates a team of different healthcare professions, addressing clinical scenarios. My first IPL experience was in first year: a two-hour session in a small classroom, with six other healthcare students – occupational therapist (OT), physiotherapist, mental health nurse, adult nurses, and pharmacist. We each brainstormed the clinical scenario, regarding a patient with Dementia who had had a fall. Having exchanged knowledge and perspective with the group, I noted there was whole viewpoint I had dismissed which was the aftercare upon discharge; it was the OT who had raised the point about the need for introducing home modifications such as a stair lift. This scenario emphasised the multi-disciplinary thinking that is required as part of a falls assessment. IPL accumulated diverse knowledge and perspective, from each member to form a high-quality social network, known as Bourdieu’s ‘Social Capital’ [3]. Each member gains assets for practice from exchanging knowledge through interactions with other healthcare professions. Thus, there is also a reciprocal benefit gained – in providing holistic care [4]. IPL allows one to exercise and expand one’s social capital which emphasises the importance of IPL.

IPL deviates from traditional ‘sage on the stage’ approach; its foundations are from ‘Social constructivism’ paradigm which showcases the importance of IPL. It postulates learning is mediated by environment; each member of the discipline can construct their own meaning from interactions they have with other members of team, and in some instances, with facilitation. We were facilitated by a supervisor who probed the team with questions to help each one of us reach our zone-of-proximal-development.[5] This zone is the level of skill that can be gained with support and yet again enriches one’s social capital by exploring perspectives that a learner may not have considered. 

With little experience, confidence and knowledge, my own social capital was little. Yet being surrounded by other healthcare students, in a non-judgemental space helped me feel less anxious about decision making and helped to instil trust. Trust an integral part of preserving social capital and investing in future clinical partnerships and is central to maintaining good clinical practice, as per domain four GMC guidelines. IPL remains a novel and dynamic pedagogical format: it reconsiders importance of constructing one’s knowledge through social interactions which allows each member to invest in future multidisciplinary team, to provide high quality holistic care. 


Buring SM, Bhushan A, Broeseker A, Conway S, Duncan-Hewitt W, Hansen L, et al. Interprofessional Education: Definitions, student competencies, and guidelines for implementation. American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education [Internet]. 2009Jul [cited 2022Nov22];73(4):59. Available from: 

Hopkins D, editor. Framework for Action on Interprofessional Education & Collaborative Practice [Internet]. World Health organisation . 2010 [cited 2022Nov22]. Available from:;jsessionid=6C99C65ED81C690F09F123B71D2C21D4?sequence=1 

Burgess A, van Diggele C, Matar E. Interprofessional team-based learning: Building social capital. Journal of Medical Education and Curricular Development [Internet]. 2020Aug7 [cited n.d.Nov22];7:238212052094182. 

Richardson JG. Forms of capital . In: Handbook of theory and research for the Sociology of Education. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, Inc.; 1986. p. 21–9. 

Social Constructivist Theory Student Pepperdine University Graduate School of Education and Psychology [Internet]. [cited 2022Nov22]. Available from: 

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