Case Example

One student’s perspective on interprofessional education
(including perspectives on Intrapersonal/Organizational/Systemic Level Factors)

Student in a meetingLet me tell you my story ~ I recently graduated from with a Master’s in Social Work and planned to work in some aspect of public health. Luckily, I was hired by the health authority to work in public health and it was through this organization that I could finally put my knowledge of collaboration to work.

As a student, I had an overall understanding of team work and collaboration and had hoped to develop this aspect further. I understood the importance of effective communication, building trusting relationships, and avoiding silo-thinking.

Related IconRelated: Effective Communication
Related: Trusting and Inclusive Relationships


However, the topic that was missing in my program curriculum was interprofessional/intersectoral curriculum elements. I didn’t recognize its importance until I was actually working.

Luckily for me, my organization financed and offered continuous professional development programs.  They offered me the opportunity to job shadow a primary care social worker. It was through this arrangement that I actually learned about the importance of role clarification.

Related Icon



Related: Role Clarity

There were real differences in how the primary care social worker focused her work in client chronic disease management and how I took a population-focus on this area. Both of us gained a level of understanding and respect that became critical components as we moved into several public health and primary care collaborations.

Public health in the health authority also offered professional development sessions in joint goal setting, leadership skills, team processes, conflict resolution and negotiation. These sessions also emphasized the differences in the 4 C’s; that is, communication, coordination, cooperation, and collaboration. These additional in-services helped me develop further knowledge and skills in the areas of intersectoral collaboration.

Finally, in my opinion, from a systemic perspective, we can build better intersectoral public health-primary care collaborations by developing professional educational curricula in the basic educational professional programs, in every province/territory, that include interprofessional learning opportunities that meet accreditation standards.

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