Early-Learners' Expectations of and Experience with IPE: A Multi-Institutional Qualitative Study

Sharon K. Lanning, VCU School of Dentistry
Karen Pardue, University of New England, USA
Kathrin Eliot, University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center
Amanda Goumas, LSU Health Sciences Center- New Orleans
Ginge Kettenbach, St. Louis University
Bernice Mills, University of New England, USA
Kelly Lockeman, VCU School of Medicine
Anthony Breitbach, St. Louis University
Tina P. Gunaldo, LSU Health Sciences Center- New Orleans


Background: Multi-institutional qualitative studies are scarce within the interprofessional education (IPE) literature; such a report would provide comprehensive evidence for the application of interprofessional instruction among earlier learners. Objective: This investigation explored students' expectations of and barriers to introductory IPE across four institutions. Design: Qualitative inductive content analysis was utilized to interpret students' narrative responses to assigned pre- and post-survey questions. Setting: Health science schools of four U.S. institutions at Institution A, Institution B, Institution C, and Institution D. Participants: Twenty-two percent (n = 385) of eligible participants completed both pre- and post-surveys. Nursing student participation was greatest (n = 113, 33%), followed by occupational therapy (n = 44, 13%), and physical therapy (n = 36, 10%). All other program participation was <10%. In total, students' narrative comments from 19 degree programs were a part of the data set. Methods: Responses from one pre-survey question on expectations of introductory IPE and two post-survey questions on IPE benefits and barriers were studied using qualitative inductive thematic analysis. Results: Four themes emerged as IPE learning expectations and benefits: my own professional role, professional role of others, teamwork, and communication. The theme of interacting with peers surfaced as an additional IPE benefit. There were four themes noted as IPE barriers: course logistics, lack of context, course content, and social dynamics. Conclusion: This multi-institutional qualitative study adds to the literature by providing empirical evidence regarding early learner perceptions of IPE experiences. Student expectations and benefits of their introductory IPE course/curriculum aligned. Perceived barriers are useful in informing future IPE implementation and research.