Abstract: Interprofessional collaboration is an essential approach to comprehensive patient care. As previous studies have argued, interprofessional education (IPE) must be integrated in a stepwise, systematic manner in undergraduate health profession education programmes. Given this perspective, first-year IPE is a critical opportunity for building the foundation of interprofessional collaborative practice. This study aims to explore the first-year students’ learning processes and the longitudinal changes in their perceptions of learning in a year-long IPE programme. Data were collected at a Japanese medical university, in which different pedagogical approaches are adopted in the IPE programme. Some of these approaches include interprofessional problem-based learning, early exposure, and interactive lecture-based teaching. The students are required to submit written reflections as a formative assessment. This study conducted an inductive thematic analysis of 104 written reflections from a series of e-portfolios of 26 first-year students. The themes related to learning outcomes from student perspectives included communication (e.g., active listening and intelligible explanation), teams and teamwork (e.g., mutual engagement and leadership), roles/responsibilities as a group member (e.g., self-directed learning and information literacy), and roles/responsibilities as a health professional (e.g., understanding of the student’s own professional and mutual respect in an interprofessional team). The study also indicated three perspectives of students’ learning process at different stages of the IPE, i.e., processes by which students became active and responsible learners, emphasised the enhancement of teamwork, and developed their own interprofessional identities. This study revealed the first-year students’ learning processes in the year-long IPE programme and clarified the role of the first-year IPE programme within the overall curriculum. The findings suggest that the students’ active participation in the IPE programme facilitated their fundamental understanding of communication/teamwork and identity formation as a health professional in interprofessional collaborative practice.
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