From expert to novice and back: a qualitative study of interprofessional collaboration and the experiences of frontline healthcare professionals during the first wave of COVID-19

Malin Heiden*, Camilla Bernild, Selina Kikkenborg Berg, Ilkay Dagyaran, Malene Missel, Signe Westh Christensen, Signe Stelling Risom, Ida Elisabeth Højskov

*Corresponding author

Publikation: Bidrag til tidsskriftTidsskriftartikelForskningpeer review


BACKGROUND: The global coronavirus disease 2019 pandemic put extreme pressure on healthcare systems worldwide, forcing a heavy workload on healthcare professionals. Frontline treatment and care for patients with coronavirus disease 2019 compelled healthcare professionals to rapidly adapt to new working conditions. This study explores the experiences of frontline healthcare professionals to learn more about how frontline work affects their learning and skills development but also interprofessional collaboration during a pandemic.

METHODS: In-depth, one-to-one semi-structured interviews were conducted with 22 healthcare professionals. A broad interdisciplinary group, the participants were employed in public hospitals in four of Denmark's five regions. Using a reflexive methodology for the data analysis allowed reflexive interpretation when interpreting subjects and interpreting the interpretation.

RESULTS: The study identified two empirical themes: into the unknown and in the same boat, which we critically interpreted using learning theory and theory on interprofessionalism. The study found that the healthcare professionals moved from being experts in their own fields to being novices in the frontline of the pandemic, and then back to being experts based on interprofessional collaboration that included shared reflection. Working in the frontline was imbued with a unique atmosphere in which workers were equals and functioned interdependently, the barriers normally obstructing interprofessional collaboration set aside to focus on combating the pandemic.

CONCLUSIONS: This study reveals new insights regarding knowledge on frontline healthcare professionals in terms of learning and developing new skills, as well as the importance of interprofessional collaboration. The insights contributed to the understanding of the importance of shared reflection and how the development of expertise was a socially embedded process where discussions were possible without fear of being ridiculed and healthcare professionals were willing to share their knowledge.

TidsskriftBMC Medical Education
Udgave nummer1
Sider (fra-til)299
Antal sider1
StatusUdgivet - 2 maj 2023
Udgivet eksterntJa

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© 2023. The Author(s).

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