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Building our future workforce

Health professionals need to be able to work in teams, but, paradoxically, students receive little training in how to function within an interprofessional team context. Effective, safe, high quality care increasingly requires practitioners to know how each profession contributes its skills and expertise to optimise health outcomes. Interprofessional education is essential to break down the barriers between professions that undermine the quality of communication and client* care.

Health Sciences at Curtin recognises the need to change the way health professionals are educated to prepare them for the ever-changing health and social demands worldwide. Interprofessional Education (IPE) is one of the key strategies which forms the foundation of many Faculty initiatives enabling health and social work professionals to learn with, from, and about each other, sharing knowledge, skills, and attitudes necessary for collaborative practice.

The aim of the Faculty’s IPE program is to provide opportunities for health science students to learn together. Through learning together (both in the classroom and in fieldwork placements) it is expected that students will understand more about the health professionals they will work with in the future. Health Sciences at Curtin are the first to provide interprofessional education in Western Australia, the main focus of this innovative curriculum is to:

  • ensure safety and quality improvement in health care/service delivery
  • ensure client-centred practice
  • promote collaborative practice
  • enhance students’ team work and communication skills
  • develop students for success in the healthcare sector.

* Definition of a client: Today we use the word client rather than patient – this is because the client may be an individual, a family, a carer, a group, an organisation, or a community depending upon the situation. Patient typically refers to someone who is sick, and health professionals work with many clients who have needs but are not sick – in fact the focus of intervention is around prevention or modification of the environment or other actions designed to ensure the best quality of health care/service.