The richness of multi professional doctoral education (2014)

Hilary Piercy & Frances Gordon

Generic professional doctorate programmes may ensure the viability and of professional doctorate programmes (Park 2007). However, we suggest that the benefits extend far beyond programme sustainability and other institutional advantages. One benefit is the opportunity afforded to students through learning in a multiprofessional cohort. This has particular resonance in the disciplines of health and wellbeing in which successive policies have identified the imperative for multidisciplinary approaches to workforce development (e.g. DH, 2012, DH 2013a, DH 2013b).

The aim of this paper is to present the findings of a study conducted to explore the personal meaning that students hold regarding the value of multiprofessional engagement in a professional doctorate programme for health and wellbeing professionals.

The purpose of the study was to explore the personal meanings that doctoral students ascribe to the value of studying within a multiprofessional context. Data were generated through four focus group discussions and two individual interviews.  23 students from four cohorts participated in the study.  This approach situates the study within a social constructionist theoretical perspective and is located therefore in a qualitative paradigm (Crotty, 1998). Data were analysed using a thematic approach (Braun and Clark, 2006).

This paper will address one major theme emerging from the data; Different but the same, and three associated subthemes namely ‘travelling alone together’, ‘being clear and getting clear’ and ‘finding new worlds.’ These describe the students’ experiences of finding themselves as a lone professional sharing a journey with others from completely different backgrounds and the transformative impact this has on their academic and professional development. The findings of this study that trace this transformative effect over the four year duration of the doctoral journey provides a unique insight into how multiprofessional learning can be harnessed to inform pedagogical practice at doctoral level.