Mater allied health inter-professional student education: how not to step on toes

Catherine Carter1, Amy Chiu1, Chloe Jobber1, Meredith Kenny1, Lucy Lyons1, Paul Miller1, Lisa Boustead1

1Allied Health Clinical Educators Network – Mater Health, South Brisbane, Australia


Best practice guidelines endorse holistic care as effective and a sustainable form of service delivery. Despite the incorporation of interdisciplinary theory into university programs, Allied Health (AH) students continue to undertake predominantly discipline specific clinical placements. This lack of translation to interdisciplinary clinical practice was confirmed by Mater AH student feedback.


Since 2012, Mater’s Clinical Educators Network has piloted methods of interdisciplinary learning to enhance student knowledge and skills. This presentation showcases the programs developed, the transformation of these as guided by student feedback, and program outcomes.


Two interdisciplinary programs were developed in response to:

  • Students’ confusion about other disciplines’ roles
  • Lack of confidence on communicating with other disciplines
  • Desire to work collaboratively and avoid duplication

Programs were offered to Audiology, Dietetics, Occupational Therapy, Physiotherapy, Psychology, Social Work and Speech Pathology students.

1) Meet and Greet (MAG) Program:

  • Semi-structured session: students introduce their roles and professional challenges to gain a broader understanding of multidisciplinary practice. Student feedback indicated the desire to discuss a case to practice consulting with other disciplines.

2) Student Interdisciplinary Tutorial (SIT):

  • Structured program: students are presented with a hypothetical patient. They undertake pre-work based on key biopsychosocial themes and in session, are provided with questions to facilitate collaboration. Learning objectives include: mapping professional roles, identifying opportunities for collaboration, and identifying role overlap.


Unfortunately, evaluation was different for the two programs and unable to be compared. The average overall satisfaction were calculated using a 5-point likert scale (1=not at all, 5=very much). The MAG group (N=59) average was 4.15, whilst SIT group (N=40) average was 4.55.

Despite being unable to statistically compare the two groups; face validity suggests the SIT group was more highly regarded. It consolidated student’s awareness of the patient’s experience within a multi-disciplinary team, and provided opportunities to communicate and work collaboratively.


Catherine Carter is an Occupational Therapist and the Occupational Therapy Clinical Education Support Officer at the Mater Hospital Brisbane. She is a clinical educator to occupational therapy students and new graduates within the hospital. Catherine recognises the value of collaboration and effective communication amongst health providers in quality and effective patient care.

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