How podiatry may inform the United Kingdom's inter-professional education agenda
The impetus for Inter-Professional Education (IPE) amongst the health and social care professions within higher education has been gaining pace over the past fifteen year. The exploratory research adds to the understanding of podiatry as a health profession involved with IPE. It comprises two studies which identify IPE stakeholders and policies, its delivery to undergraduate health and social care students, and its application to and perception by final year podiatry students. It uses mixed methods and a critical realist perspective to inform understanding of the different societal levels involved with IPE. A literature search of IPE stakeholders and policies directed semi-structured interviews with course developers, subsequently contrasted with IPE attitudes and concerns of podiatry students.\ud \ud A convenience sampple of seven lead developers of IPE was recruited from the thirteen UK universities that teach podiatry. Semi-structured telephone interviews were performed, with the transcripts undergoing a detailed content analysis. Q Methodology was utilised to reveal the views of forty-one podiatry students about IPE: their attitudes towards the subject and their concerns over its implementation.\ud \ud Findings indicate that IPE implementation is pragmatic and atheoretical with regards to best practice, though uses of educational theory and two frameworks are identified. Principles of Adult Education and experiential learning are common, facilitated within small groups of mixed health and social care students. Whilst some podiatry students are appreciative of IPE, others have more critical viewpoints, in particular of its professional relevance and facilitation. The research suggests further research into staff and student preparation for IPE, and exploration of the contrasting medical and social models of care implicit within IPE endeavours.