The Student-Run Multidisciplinary Allied Health Practice Center offers a setting that connects clients, students, teachers and working life partners. The center embraces multidisciplinarity, and the wide range of disciplines involved is expected to stimulate new ways of thinking and better insight creation. The multidisciplinary center will help students develop their professional competencies, and clients will receive services that support their well-being. This blog post shares important findings of the development process from the perspective of Metropolia´s tutoring work.
Multidisciplinary collaboration and co-creation
Nowadays, multiprofessional and multidisciplinary collaboration is becoming more common and is already the natural way of working together in many health care contexts. Co-creation is a teamwork approach and a tool to spark innovation and client satisfaction, and to integrate clients into the processes of service ideation and development (1, 2).
Co-creation brings different parties together to jointly produce a mutually valued outcome. Co-creation brings in ideas from clients or participants, which in turn creates new ideas to the project (2). In co-creation, service users and providers are equal actors in the development process. Based on Harra (3), co-creation means collaboratively planned actions for developing processes to achieve the best solutions in a meaningful way.
Developing a multidisciplinary center model
In January 2019, the KickOff event of the Erasmus+ capacity building project Student-Run Multidisciplinary Allied Health Practice Center (SMAHPC) was launched in Gjilan, Kosovo. This was the start of an international network and collaboration between six universities and several working life partners.
The purpose of this international project was to co-create and develop a new learning environment and way of teaching, where Metropolia University of Applied Sciences’ role was to support the development process in multiprofessional teams. The following key concepts were identified in the beginning of the process and chosen as basis for development:
- Multidisciplinary Collaboration
- Allied Health
- Innovation and entrepreneurship
- Co-configuration and co-creation
- Evidence-informed practice
- Network communication
Throughout the project, the development teams engaged different actors from different fields and educational backgrounds, such as social and healthcare sector and also law, educational and rehabilitation sectors.
The development teams included
- chief financial officers (CFO)
- junior and senior specialists
Taking network collaboration further with partners
A business plan and an operational model concerning learning and pedagogy for the Student-Run Center were co-created to clarify the center’s structure. The project team consisting of development teams also co-wrote a Handbook of key concepts.
During a study visit in Helsinki, the aim was to define and clarify the structure and operations of the new Student-Run Center. To visualize the center´s operating model we used different kinds of co-creation methods and service design tools. For example:
- Canva applications
- Blueprints of services
- Concretization of services and activities through play with Legos and other functional activities
Defining key roles at the Student-Run Center – client, teacher and student
From the very beginning, the importance of conceptualizing new equal roles and actions at the center was emphasized. We discussed and co-created materials during online tutoring sessions by using, for example, Google Jamboard to define and visualize practical actions at the center. The tutors formulated important questions that needed to be answered:
- Who chooses treatment methods and evaluates assignments and learning outcomes at the center?
- How can we support collaboration and learning during all steps of the operation model at the center?
- How is knowledge constructed and in what settings: virtual or face-to-face?
- How is interaction and equal participation taken into consideration?
- Is the working method collaboration or cooperation?
- How is the client’s perspective taken into consideration?
Bridging the differences for a common goal
Also, some differences affected the development work. Many laws and regulations guide the universities’ teaching and client service activities in Kosovo’s social and healthcare sectors, which were important to notice. We spoke different languages and sometimes had different understandings of crucial concepts because of our backgrounds and historical variables. This challenged collaboration and co-configuration and made co-working sometimes more like cooperation.
Each participant’s perspective was equally important to be highlighted during the development and enriched the team’s understanding and created depth for action and co-creation. We were driven by a shared ambition and a state of mind that bound us into close communication and interaction that led to a shared understanding.
The global Covid-19 pandemic made the pragmatic phase of the development process at the center very challenging. The piloting of the operational model and the new pedagogical approaches at the Student-Run Center were planned to be implemented in parallel with the piloting. However, more practical experience is required to enable further development so that the services provided at the Student-Run Center will match the needs of the clients and the students’ learning outcomes.
Tools for sharing knowledge and supporting collaboration
Role playing was used to clarify the roles and tasks of teachers and students in this new way of learning. Students dramatized actual client situations in the Student-Run Center. The teachers’ role was to mentor, coach and spar the client work. The aim for the students was to learn by doing, which is a new approach in the Kosovian teaching culture.
Online tools and applications, such as Google Jamboard and Padlet, were used during tutoring sessions. These tools helped to introduce and try different possibilities of collaboration and co-creation that highlighted new pedagogical learning approaches in new online settings.
The client’s role and perspectives are essential in service design
In the beginning, the aim was to develop one Student-Run Center, but during this project, all Kosovian universities involved also started creating Student-Run Centers in their own surroundings.
The clients’ roles in these new centers are crucial: to have an active Student-Run Center, we need clients and students. The students provide the services that the clients need and desire. Through client work, the student will experience a unique learning environment which generates skills for the demanding working life. To provide services and to enable learning in this way is also socially sustainable in many ways.
Now facing the dissemination stage of this project, the multidisciplinary collaboration has built the capability in all participants and partners involved. In the future, it is important for the actual actors at the Student-Run Center (clients, students and teachers) to continuously collaborate and co-create. To emphasize the clients’ perspective in the ongoing development it is important to maintain the desired and needed services at the center for years to come.
Janett Halonen works as a Senior Lecturer in the Occupational Therapy Degree Programme and has participated in the SMAHPC project from 2019 to 2022. Janett collaborates with students, clients and staff at Metropolia UAS´s HyMy-Village, which is an example of a Student-Run center at Myllypuro campus. Janett also works as project manager in the Digital inclusiveness promoting employment project and has a Master Degree in Health Promotion.
Kajsa Sten works at Metropolia as Senior Lecturer for the degree program in Optometry, and she gets excited about development and learning projects done together with work life partners and students. By education, Kajsa is an Optometrist and has completed a Master’s Degree in Rehabilitation and has vocational teacher’s qualification. Over the years, Kajsa has been involved in many development projects, and been actively involved in co-creating and starting up the Metropolia’ s multidisciplinary HyMy -village services and learning environments. The Village OPTICIAN learning environment was developed by Kajsa and it is created in close cooperation between working life networks and Metropolia.
- Galvagno, M., & Dalli, D. (2014). Theory of value co-creation: a systematic literature review.
- Palumbo, R. (2016). Contextualizing co-production of health care: a systematic literature review. Int J Public Sector Manage, 29(1), 72-90. Managing Service Quality, 24(6), 643-683.
- Harra, T. (2014). Terapeuttinen yhteistoiminta. Asiakkaan osallisuuden mahdollistaminen toimintaterapiassa. Rovaniemi: University of Lapland.
Visit the SMAHPC project webpage (src-health.net)