A culture of continuous service improvement underpins safe, efficient and cost-effective health and social care. This paper reports a qualitative research study of assessment material from one cohort of final year pre-registration health and social care students' interprofessional service improvement learning experience. Initially introduced to the theory of service improvement, students were linked with an interprofessional buddy group, and subsequently planned and implemented, if possible, a small scale service improvement project within a practice placement setting. Assessment was by oral project presentation and written reflection on learning. Summative assessment materials from 150 students were subjected to content analysis to identify: service user triggers for service improvement; ideas to address the identified area for improvement; and perceptions of service improvement learning. Triggers for service improvements included service user disempowerment, poor communication, gaps in service provision, poor transitions, lack of information, lack of role clarity and role duplication, and differed between professions. Ideas for improvement included both the implementation of evidence based best practice protocols in a local context and also innovative approaches to problem solving. Students described both intrapersonal and interprofessional learning as a result of engaging with service improvement theory and practice. Service improvement learning in an interprofessional context has positive learning outcomes for health and social care students. Students can identify improvement opportunities that may otherwise go undetected. Engaging positively in interprofessional service improvement learning as a student is an important rehearsal for life as a qualified practitioner. It can help students to develop an ability to challenge unsafe practice elegantly, thereby acting as advocates for the people in their care. Universities can play a key support role by working collaboratively with service organisations; role modelling effective interprofessional working; and supporting research to measure the impact of education on practice.
Machin, A., & Jones, D. (2014). Interprofessional service improvement learning and patient safety: a content analysis of pre-registration students' assessments. Nurse Education Today, 34(2), 218-224. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.nedt.2013.06.022