Hall, Pippa, and Lynda Weaver. “Interdisciplinary education and teamwork: a long and winding road.” Medical education 35.9 (2001): 867-875

This article looks at education in an interdiscplinary team.  Most people have heard of a multi-disciplinary team where a team of specialists (in their own right) discuss cases.  Think of the MDT approach to hospital based disciplines and particualr complex cancer care.  At the other end of the spectrum is transdisciplinary where there is role blurring within the team members.  This is increasingly the case in primary care with practice nurses taking on more chronic disease management and the use of physician assistants.  Interdisciplinary is probably a more traditional primary care model however where there are distinct roles yet the team works together with a common focus being the patient.  That is not to say this isn’t the case with a MDT but there is more role blurring with interdiscliplinary teams as well as some professional overlap.  It’s what often happens when we discuss patients in primary care as a team looking at all outcomes for a patient.  These could be physical, social or psychological.  The question this article attempts to answer is how do we address the educational needs of that team?

My professional project is a service evaluation of PBSGL.  This method of CME has been evluated before with generally favourable findings.  My ‘unique selling point’ so to speak is how having a mixed skillset group can enable peer support.  For example, having GPSTs, First5 GPs as well as more experienced GPs.  Whilst this doesn’t fit in with the definitons above, there are some transferable findings.  The article talks about System Issues and Content Issues.  Both are relevant.  Three areas discussed I think are important.

  1. Non-traditional teaching methods such as Problem Based Learning helps focus the team on ‘idea dominance’. This puts teamwork at the fore, with the patient as the focus. This is an important aspect of PBSGL.
  2. Faculty development – who does the education within the team & how do they as educators develop? This role is extremely important in the early days of initiating a programme and it would be easy to become disillusioned if there is apathy towards interdisciplinary education.
  3. Leadership skills – a hugely important yet often overlooked. We probably are demonstrating good leadership in primary care already but may be need to qualify it to allow development. This article pre-dates it but the NHS Academy Medical Leadership Competency Framework is a good start with a self assessment toolkit for those responsible for faculty development and who are facilitators.

Whilst an older article, it does raise important aspects of how we assure and develop education within the Primary Care Team.  This is perhaps more of an imperative due to the changing roles of the different Primary Care Team members since the article was written and further ‘role blurring’.

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