Landing : Athabascau University

Reflections on Renate Bradley’s “Utilizing Reflection to Understand Students’ Lived Interprofessional Experiences in their Clinical Practicum: A Phenomenological Study”

Reflections on Renate Bradley’s “Utilizing Reflection to Understand Students’ Lived Interprofessional Experiences in their Clinical Practicum: A Phenomenological Study”


   Renate Bradley presented to EDDE 806 on her dissertation proposal, “Utilizing Reflection to Understand Students’ Lived Interprofessional Experiences in their Clinical Practicum: A Phenomenological Study.” As it is early in the process for Renate, this title might change and the focus of the research might also evolve, but as she noted, this study is really about phenomenology. In particular, the focus is on how the students in this study develop their intent to practice interprofessionally after their clinical experience.

   This study is focused on the health care sector, so interprofessional education (IPE) and interprofessional practice (IPP) in this context refer to communication and collaboration among team members in a health care setting. According to Renate, IPP is defined as the “development of cohesive and integrated health care practice among professionals in response to patients’/clients’ needs.” Renate noted that the patient or client is considered to be a part of the team, as well as the focus of the team, though she did not elaborate on how this affects interactions among the team members and with the patient. It would be interesting to understand the reasons for, and implications of, the inclusion of the patient in this context.

   The argument seems to be that IPP would be stronger if nurses and others in health care had more effective interprofessional education—more opportunities to understand others’ roles. In other words, more exposure to IPE would allow immersion in IPE, which in turn would lead to increased collaboration and competence, and thus better patient care and safety. Renate’s slide showing this progression was useful in making these connections clear. However, previous work seems to have focused on anecdotal evaluation and on “pockets of intervention” with minimal connection to practice. To determine how effective IPE is in leading to enhanced IPP, the study will examine students’ lived experiences in regard to IPE: what were their perceptions of the value of IPE? How did their clinical experiences impact their perception of the value of IPE? This phenomenological approach is unique.

   Renate’s progress to date indicate that she has considered the whole arc of the study, which looks at a three-year program for nurse training. She clearly laid out the epistemological assumptions underlying the study’s goals. This draws upon a number of theoretical approaches: social identity theory, collaborative constructivism, learning as transformational and more. Most notably, the idea of experiential learning theory has connections to my own work in working with adult learners and the assessment and recognition of their prior learning toward a university credential. In this theory, it is the practice and repetition of practice, but also learners’ reflection on that practice, that can lead to deep learning (Kolb, 1984). In addition, she hopes that an inductive approach to the data she collects will allow for the construction of new theory that accounts for the results. An interesting addition is the focus on reflection—not only as a method of gathering data, but also as a means of reinforcing learning for the subjects. This is not a question that pertains to my research as I have it configured at present, but it might be useful to consider how the research itself might affect the subjects of my study.

   The research methods—a qualitative interpretive and phenomenological approach--seem appropriate to the goals of the study. Likewise, the criteria for inclusion in the study seem practical, though the number of subjects and thee short length of time might be a bit limited for the construction of theory. While Renate has a clear understanding of these and other limitations of the study, it will be necessary to make sure that there is good alignment between the scope of the study and its goals.

   The major issue that Renate will need to address in this study, as noted by others, is the seeming absence of a distance education component. Gathering the data via an online program would not be a means of addressing this issue, unless the data gathering tool was itself the focus of the study. However, at this early stage, inclusion of a distance ed dimension will be fairly simple.


Kolb, D. A. (1984). Experiential learning: Experience as the source of learning and development (Vol. 1). Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall.


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