Background: Interprofessional Education (IPE) aims to improve students' attitudes towards collaboration, teamwork, and leads to improved patient care upon graduation. However, the best time to introduce IPE into the undergraduate curriculum is still under debate.
Methods: We used a mixed-methods design based on a sequential explanatory model. Medical students from all six years at the University of Bern, Switzerland (n = 683) completed an online survey about attitudes towards interprofessional learning using a scale validated for German speakers (G-IPAS). Thirty-one medical students participated in nine semi-structured interviews focusing on their experience in interprofessional learning and on the possible impact it might have on their professional development.
Results: Women showed better attitudes in the G-IPAS across all years (p = 0,007). Pre-clinical students showed more positive attitudes towards IPE [Year 1 to Year 3 (p = 0.011)]. Students correctly defined IPE and its core dimensions. They appealed for more organized IPE interventions throughout the curriculum. Students also acknowledged the relevance of IPE for their future professional performance.
Conclusions: These findings support an early introduction of IPE into the medical curriculum. Although students realise that interprofessional learning is fundamental to high-quality patient care, there are still obstacles and stereotypes to overcome.
Trial registration: ISRCTN 41715934.