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Interdisciplinary teamwork
Categories: Education, Ethics, Health

Student differences and teaching implications

By Janet R. Buelow, Rod McAdams, Alice Adams, and Leigh E. Rich

Teamwork with individuals from multiple disciplines is recognized as a significant skill necessary for professional employment. While a variety of teaching methods for students in health care professions have been investigated and found to be generally effective in improving interdisciplinary team skills, one field – health administration – has not been included in these studies. The research presented here used two standardized instruments (with seven distinct subscales) to compare perceptions of health care administration students and clinical students regarding interdisciplinary teamwork. Three attitudes toward interdisciplinary health care teams were similar among all students – shared leadership, perceived need for cooperation, and understanding others’ values. Significant differences between administration and clinical students were found in four areas. Health administration students exhibited lower scores for: 1) believing in the value of teamwork, 2) recognizing teamwork efficiency, 3) believing their profession was perceived as competent by other health care professionals, and 4) recognizing their own lack of cooperation in teamwork. These findings reveal the diverse cultures among health care professionals and invite educators to consider the diversity of their students when implementing interdisciplinary team-teaching techniques and methods.

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Buelow, Janet R., Rod McAdams, Alice Adams, and Leigh E. Rich. 2010. Interdisciplinary teamwork: Student differences and teaching implications. American Journal of Health Sciences 1(1): 11–22.

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