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Type: Journal article
Title: Implementing interprofessional learning curriculum: how problems might also be answers
Author: O'Keefe, M.
Ward, H.
Citation: BMC Medical Education, 2018; 18(1):132-1-132-9
Publisher: BioMed Central
Issue Date: 2018
ISSN: 1472-6920
Statement of
Maree O'Keefe and Helena Ward
Abstract: Background: Despite interprofessional learning (IPL) being widely recognised as important for health care professions, embedding IPL within core curriculum remains a significant challenge. The aim of this study was to identify tensions associated with implementing IPL curriculum for educators and clinical supervisors, and to examine these findings from the perspective of activity theory and the expansive learning cycle (ELC). Methods: We interviewed 12 faculty staff and ten health practitioners regarding IPL. Interviews were semi-structured. Following initial thematic analysis, further analysis was undertaken to characterise existing activity systems and the contradictions associated with implementing IPL. These findings were then mapped to the ELC. Results: Five clusters of contradictions were identified: the lack of a workable definition; when and what is best for students; the leadership hot potato; big expectations of IPL; and, resisting cultural change. When mapped to the ELC, it was apparent that although experienced as challenges, these contradictions had not yet generated sufficient tension to trigger ‘break through’ novel thinking, or contemplation and modelling of new solutions. Conclusions: The application of activity theory and the ELC offered an approach in which the most troublesome challenges might be reframed as opportunities for change. Seemingly intractable problems could be worked on to identify and address underlying fears and assumptions. If sufficient tension can be generated, an ELC could then be triggered. In reframing challenges as opportunities, the power of tensions and contradictions as potential levers for effective change might be more successfully accessed.
Keywords: Interprofessional learning; health; curriculum; activity theory
Description: Published online: 08 June 2018
Rights: © The Author(s). 2018 Open Access This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver ( applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated.
RMID: 0030090632
DOI: 10.1186/s12909-018-1231-1
Appears in Collections:Paediatrics publications

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