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Learning in lockdown: exploring the impact of COVID-19 on interprofessional education

02 November 2021
9 min read
Volume 29 · Issue 11

Abstract

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on the learning experiences of students undertaking health and social care programmes across the globe. In the UK, the Nursing and Midwifery Council introduced emergency standards for undergraduate programmes in 2020, making significant short-term changes to programme delivery. However, the mandate for all students to undertake interprofessional education remained. Interprofessional education is key to preparing students on health and social care programmes, as it enables students to work as effective members of multi-agency/multi-professional teams on qualification. It is an important element of training, as it has a direct impact on quality of care and service user experience.

This series of articles will explore the experiences of ‘lockdown learning’ from the perspective of academics, students and service users from a global perspective in relation to the delivery of interprofessional education during the pandemic, which necessitated a wholesale move from face-to-face, blended and online learning to include emergency remote teaching. The series was written by members of the Centre for the Advancement of Interprofessional Education Research Subgroup (Interprofessional Education Experiences) and aims to identify barriers and facilitators to successful shared learning and provide suggestions for how lessons learned can be taken forward to further enhance this important element of pre-registration education. The perceptions and attitudes of academics and students on such comprehensive changes are a unique and rich data source to explore and inform future provision.

The World Health Organization (WHO, 2020) declared COVID-19 as a global pandemic in March 2020. In response to the highly contagious nature of the virus, the UK government put in place stringent measures to slow down its spread, including social distancing (Gov.uk, 2020). Social distancing had a significant impact on all higher education institutions as campuses were closed and face-to-face teaching was replaced with emergency remote teaching (Power, 2020). Emergency remote teaching is defined as ‘a temporary shift of instructional delivery to an alternate delivery mode due to crisis circumstances’ (Bozkurt and Sharma, 2020; Hodges et al, 2020). Consequently, the implementation of interprofessional education programmes globally had to move from face-to-face or blended learning to emergency remote teaching. This introductory article aims to give historical context to interprofessional education provision and provide an overview of the contextualised experiences of academics and learners on interprofessional education development, delivery, and evaluation during the liminal period brought about by the pandemic.

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