Doves and hawks: practice educators’ attitudes towards interprofessional learning

Dutton, Amanda J. and Worsley, Aidan Richard clive orcid iconORCID: 0000-0002-3925-3297 (2009) Doves and hawks: practice educators’ attitudes towards interprofessional learning. Learning In Health & Social Care, 8 (3). pp. 145-153. ISSN 14736853

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The authors offer a critical account of interprofessional learning and working within the spheres of health and social care. The ‘joined up’ imperatives promoted by central government are compared to the somewhat contradictory findings of research exploring the effectiveness of interprofessional working. The role of practice educators in developing attitudes, learning and experiences around interprofessional working is heralded as an under-researched area while being of particular significance in the formation of professional identity. This paper uses the term ‘practice educators’ to capture the shared functions of nurse mentors and social work practice teachers. The authors draw on a small-scale piece of focus group-based research with professional practitioners from health and social care. The authors stress throughout the need to retain a localized approach to research in this area where differences emerged even among teams located closely to each other. The focus groups explored the experiences and attitudes of a variety of field-based practice educators within two profession-specific focus groups. The findings are coded, summarized and presented using a matrix. An analysis is offered which suggests that across both professional groups, two distinct categories of practice educators are emerging. The ‘doves’ appear to be more accepting of changes around professional boundaries where blurring is taking place. Although they do not ignore the potential conflict that can exist for themselves and their students, the doves largely seek to manage this conflict and look to a consensus approach. In contrast, the ‘hawks’ are more concerned with issues of professional erosion and look to develop more combative strategies around the maintenance of the existing boundaries and their current professional identity. It is argued that this approach has more of a conflict base.

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