Teaching ideas for generating critical and constructive insights into well-functioning multidisciplinary mental health teams

Publication Type:
Journal Article
The Journal of Mental Health Training, Education and Practice, 2011, 6 (3), pp. 117 - 127
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Purpose – It is now common place for mental health services to operate using multidisciplinary teams (MDTs) where several health professionals simultaneously maintain their disciplinary distinctiveness and assume complementary professional roles. This requires awareness of other team members' disciplines and good team-work skills. Yet in Australia, the preparation of health professionals continues to occur primarily in single-discipline programs, where interaction with other disciplines often only occurs in an ad hoc, time-limited way during clinical placement. This paper seeks to provide serious reflection on preparing students for the multidisciplinary practice within the mental health system. Design/methodology/approach – The authors introduce a student placement preparation learning package that was developed and trialled with a range of health professional students at two Australian universities. Transformative learning principles underpinned the development of the education materials and related activities, which were designed to sensitise students to the potential problems that arise within MDTs and to equip them with communication strategies for use in their university placement experiences, as well as in their future professional practice. Findings – The very large majority of student placement preparation workshop participants rated the workshop activities as extremely helpful. After participating in the activities, the very large majority of participants strongly endorsed the workshop learning objectives of understanding the different roles of MDTs members, skills required for working in MDTs, principles of collaborative team-work and respectful, positive attitudes to MDTs members. Originality/value – The transformative learning approaches to education of health professionals which are described in this paper help students to examine ways to think more critically and constructively about MDTs. © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited.
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