Maximizing Interdisciplinary Learning in Clinical Externships

“The clinical setting [is] an ideal learning environment for developing skills conducive to collaborative practice”. (Hilton & Morris, 2001, p. 172-173)

Students have a tremendous opportunity to learn about interprofessional teamwork and collaboration during their practica. Here are some ideas:

Ideas for the Clinical Educator:

  • Have your student meet with & observe other members of your team
  • Discuss your role in relation to other members on your team
  • Provide students with the opportunity to observe and participate in the team process
  • Link your student with students from other disciplines who are in practica at your site; encourage the students to discuss each others roles, share what they are learning, & observe each other in practice
  • In conjunction with a team member or members, have your student and a student (or other team member) from another discipline join to work together with a client or on a joint project
  • Set up regular student team meetings (if you have a number of students from different disciplines in your setting) (see Interprofessional Practicum Experience, 2003)

“I think that’s what I found so valuable: getting so many more perspectives and getting me to be aware of and think about all aspects of a client’s rehabilitation” (– Student comment, Interprofessional Practicum Experience, 2003)

What strategies do you find work well ? Let us know


Drinka, T. & Clark, P. (2000). Health care Teamwork: Interdisciplinary Practice and Teaching Westpor C: Auburn House.

Hilton, R. & Morris, J. (2001). Student Placements: Is there evidence supporting team skill development in clinical practice settings? J. of Interprofessional Care, May, Vol 15.

Interprofessional Practicum Experience, 2003.College of Health Disciplines,University of B.C. & G.F. Strong Rehabilitation Centre, Vancouver, B.C.