Document Type


Publication Date

Summer 2023


National trends in health care delivery focus on quality team-based care, patient safety, reducing costs and improving practitioner satisfaction (Interprofessional Education Collaborative, 2016). Health profession students, including social workers, are expected to be workforce ready for a complex interprofessional work environment. Educators are charged with developing effective ways to teach collaborative team skills as part of the curriculum (Rubin et al., 2018; Thistlethwaite et al., 2014). Educators across health professions recognize the importance of providing opportunities to immerse students in experiential, person-centered interprofessional teamwork to adequately prepare them for the workforce. (Cohen Konrad et al., 2017; Mokler, 2020). Planned interprofessional collaborative learning (ICPL) creates opportunities for students to develop mutual awareness and respect of each other’s profession and enhance students’ comfort working across disciplines (Dow et al., 2013; Congdon et al., 2020; Jones et al., 2020; Kanji et al., 2019; Peterson & Brommelsiek, 2017).

The Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) acknowledged the importance of collaborative practice by becoming a supporting organization of the national Interprofessional Education Collaborative and the explicit addition of interprofessional collaborative competencies to the education standards expected of graduates from accredited social work programs. Thus, Social work educators are charged with providing opportunities for students to develop these competencies.

Social workers bring a unique lens to the interprofessional healthcare team that is often misunderstood by other professions (de Saxe Zerden et al., 2018; Kobayashi & Fitzgerald, 2017). A barrier social work students encounter in ICPL is the lack of knowledge and biases and assumptions other health profession students and faculty have about the profession (Pecukonis et al., 2008; Pecukonis, 2014, 2020). Encountering negative stereotypes and bias as well as hierarchical attitudes can make it difficult for social work students to find their place and voice within the interprofessional team during ICPL and students are often unprepared to respond to this (Gergerich et al., 2019; Pecukonis, 2020).

This dissertation research evaluated the effectiveness and efficacy of an intervention through a mixed methods study. The purpose of the intervention was to contextualize ICPL in social work education, explore benefits, challenges, and barriers to interprofessional teamwork, increase understanding of the role of social work on the healthcare team, and improve student self-efficacy for managing conflicts that may arise from professional centrism, stereotyping, hierarchical attitudes, and bias.


Dissertation presented to the faculty of the graduate school of Millersville University of Pennsylvania, in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree Doctor of Social Work, by Kelli S. Fox.

Dr. Fox is a faculty member of the University of New England’s School of Social Work.


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