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Wolfson Research Institute for Health and Wellbeing


Publication details for Dr Andrew J. Russell

Russell, A.J. (2011). Interprofessional Healthcare as Intercultural Experience - Early Years Training for Medical Students. In Sociology of Interprofessional Health Care Practice: Critical Reflections and Concrete Solutions. Kitto, S., Chesters, J., Thistlethwaite, J. & Reeves, S. Hauppauge, NY: Nova Science. 139-153.

Author(s) from Durham


This chapter argues for the consideration of interprofessional healthcare training as intercultural experience. Using theoretical models of intercultural experience developed in social anthropology, education, and communication studies, it proposes that interprofessional healthcare education in early years medical training is a way of breaking down barriers between professions before medical students have become acculturated to the bounded professional identity that, until relatively recently, has characterised much of medicine. Part of the reason for this boundary creation is power. However, I shall argue that another potent reason is fear. Giving students the experience of interprofessional healthcare training at an early stage in their professional development gives them the confidence to develop a professional identity that is more permeable than the traditional ‘doctor’s shell’. The MBBS Phase I Community Placement scheme at Durham University’s Queen’s Campus will be used as an exemplar of this theoretical approach. It is an innovative scheme that gives every medical student in-depth, long-term contact with one of a range of non-clinical or unusual clinical health and social care providers on Teesside, a region of profound socio-economic (and therefore health) inequalities in the North East of England. Subsidiary benefits of the scheme appear to be encouraging students to remain as practising doctors on Teesside, and the lasting knowledge and understanding they have of the range of different services available to which they can direct their patients appropriately.


Series: Health Care Issues, Costs and Access