A review of interprofessional training wards: Enhancing student learning and patient outcomes

Background: In an interprofessional training ward (ITW), students from different health professions collaboratively perform patient care with the goal of improving patient care. In the past two decades, ITWs have been established world-wide and studies have investigated their benefits. We aimed to compare ITWs with respect to their logistics, interprofessional learning outcomes and patient outcomes.

Methods: We explored PubMed, CINAHL, Web of Science and EMBASE (1990–June 2017) and included articles focusing on interprofessional, in-patient training wards with student teams of medical and other health professions students. Two independent reviewers screened studies for eligibility and extracted data.

Results: Thirty-seven articles from twelve different institutions with ITWs were included. ITWs world-wide are organized similarly with groups of 2–12 students (i.e. medical, nursing, physiotherapy, occupational therapy, and pharmacy) being involved in patient care, usually for a period of two weeks. However, the type of clinical ward and the way supervisors are trained differ.

Conclusions: ITWs show promising results in short-term student learning outcomes and patient satisfaction rates. Future ITW studies should measure students’ long-term interprofessional competencies using standardized tools. Furthermore, a research focus on the impact of ITWs on patient satisfaction and relevant patient care outcomes is important.