The Collaborative Care Project : a practice‑based approach to interprofessional education in a primary healthcare setting in South Africa

Muller, Jana (2020-04-18)

CITATION: Muller, J. 2020. The Collaborative Care Project : a practice‑based approach to interprofessional education in a primary healthcare setting in South Africa. Education for Health, 32(3):141-145, doi:10.4103/efh.EfH_276_19.

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Background: There is global evidence that primary healthcare (PHC) leads to improved health outcomes. In the South Africa PHC model, the PHC team identifies healthcare needs through community visits. For health professional students to learn this PHC model requires an immersed, interprofessional community experience. Context: A select number of final year undergraduate health science students from Stellenbosch University, South Africa spend six weeks to one full year working at a rural clinical school with the focus on contextualised, transformative and interprofessional clinical training. Objective: The collaborative care project is one of the opportunities aimed at exposing students to contextual interprofessional training in a resource constrained community. Students are challenged to collaboratively find potential solutions to problems patients face using local resources, with the aim of improving patient outcomes and transforming students into collaborative change agents. Activities: Students, under the supervision of local community health workers, are tasked with conducting interprofessional home visits for discharged patients or patients identified by community members. Possible environmental, personal and health risk factors are identified and referrals made to existing community or state facilities for further management. Outcome: The collaborative care project has resulted in improved patient identification, accessibility to available resources and referral. Students recognise the value of contextualised collaborative clinical training to shape them as clinicians. Challenges and successes are shared to encourage more practical, community based opportunities for collaborative care. Reciprocal teaching and learning take place and students express a change in self‑perception, team identity and improved role clarification. Conclusion: This project creates an opportunity for students and community to improve their understanding of precipitating factors to illness, which are not often considered as routine health care and to find local solutions to problems identified.

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