Student volunteers’ interprofessional learning experiences at an inner-city student-driven clinic

Presentation by Deanne Johnston (Department of Pharmacy and Pharmacology, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa) at the ATBH IX Conference in Auckland (Sept 2018)

Trinity Health Services is a free inner-city clinic that serves a homeless community in Johannesburg. The clinic is run by pharmacy and medical students registered in the Faculty of Health Sciences at the University of the Witwatersrand. They are assisted by academic staff employed in the faculty. This setting provides an ideal space to document the interprofessional experiences between these two groups outside of formalized lectures or experiential learning activities. Therefore, the research question for this study was: What are the learning experiences of medical and pharmacy students working at an inner-city student-driven clinic?
A convenience sampling method was employed and all students who volunteered at the clinic were invited to participate in a discipline specific focus group. The recordings of the focus group discussions (FGDs) were transcribed verbatim and analyzed using thematic analysis to identify common themes. Ethics approval was attained from the Human Research Ethics Committee of the university (M161140).
Themes emerged related to serving of the community, interprofessional and peer-learning as well as working as a team in an environment conducive to learning. Both FGDs described the primary purpose of the clinic being to serve the community. Participants felt that they work synergistically in the clinic and have self-identified their clinical roles through understanding their scope of practice. They expressed their appreciation of working together and being able to learn with and from each other. Participants also described the interaction between students in different years of study within a discipline, providing a setting where they both learn from and teach fellow students. The clinic is seen as a safe learning environment where students can practice and apply concepts taught in lectures such as the biopsychosocial approach to patient care as well as practising communication and counselling skills.
The importance of student-driven primary health care facilities was highlighted. This experience differs from their clinical exposures as students are submerged in the clinic helping to build their confidence as future pharmacists and doctors.

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