Interprofessional identity: an ethnography of clinical simulation learning in New Zealand

Pauline Cooper-Ioelu*, Tanisha Jowsey

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)
56 Downloads (Pure)


Background: This article explores the experiences of clinical healthcare students on an interprofessional simulation course in Auckland, New Zealand. The four-day course aims to provide a formative learning experience for final year medical, pharmacy, nursing, and paramedicine students. It focuses on building skills in professionalism, communication, leadership and interprofessional safe teamwork through structured learning activities and clinical simulation scenarios. 

Methods: In 2018, we commenced focused ethnographic research involving participant observation, field notes, interviews, photography and ethnographic film. 

Results: A total of 112 students participated in this research from the disciplines of medicine (n = 53), nursing (n = 27), pharmacy (n = 17), and paramedicine (n = 15). In a revisit to Van Gennep’s (1972) seminal work on liminality, we suggest that the course represents a liminal space where students’ ideas about what it means to be a healthcare ‘professional’ are challenged, disrupted and reconstructed. We observed students emerging from the course with transformed professional and interprofessional identities. 

Conclusions: We posit that the ritualised and liminal nature of the course plays a role in the development of interprofessional identities by interrupting the reproduction of siloed biomedical culture. Students are challenged to become effective team members alongside other students and experts from other professions. We discuss these findings as they relate to medical and health sciences education.

Original languageEnglish
Article number51
JournalBMC Medical Education
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 21 Jan 2022
Externally publishedYes


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