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Supporting interprofessional collaboration in Scotland through a common standards framework

Christie, Donald (2005) Supporting interprofessional collaboration in Scotland through a common standards framework. Policy Futures in Education, 3 (1). pp. 62-74. ISSN 1478-2103

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Abstract

The context of this article is the emergence of a new orthodoxy of interprofessional collaboration and multidisciplinary practice in the caring professions. Several current policy initiatives in Scotland, especially in relation to services for children, illustrate this trend, which is evident on an international scale. The article considers the nature of the challenge to models of professionalism represented by interprofessional collaboration. The contentious issue of whether it is appropriate to attempt to define standards of professionalism is examined. In particular, arguments for and against the articulation of a common framework of professional standards are analysed. The model of professionalism adopted in The Standard for Initial Teacher Education in Scotland is explained and the shared features in the equivalent standards in the fields of nursing, other allied health professions and social work are outlined. The potential value of a common standards framework is analysed in terms of how such a framework might help to overcome barriers to interprofessional collaboration. It is argued that defining professional standards need not diminish or demean professionalism. On the contrary, it is possible to create a common standards framework which can serve to enhance professionalism by enabling professional practitioners to 're-story' themselves and at the same time engage effectively in dialogue with colleagues in other professions with whom they are expected to collaborate. The potential implications of a common standards framework for patterns of professional education and training are discussed.