'Expert Patient' in Health Professional Education: Experience of OT Students
Cameron Duarte, Jasmin Joan
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Patient-centred care is the gold standard of health care, yet in practice, problems prevail. The use of the ‘expert patient’ in health professional education is one form of learning patient-centred care. A gap in the literature regarding how the use of ‘expert patient’ in health professional education promotes patient-centred care was acknowledged in current research. With Queen’s University Health Sciences & Affiliated Teaching Hospitals Research Ethics Board approval, a sample of Queen’s University MScOT students participated in a qualitative study with the following research question: “How does the students’ experience of interacting with the ‘expert patient' (‘XP’) relate to learning regarding client-centred practice (CCP)?” Three objectives were proposed: 1. Describe the OT students’ experience of interacting with the ‘expert patient’, 2. Describe the students’ learning regarding client-centered practice, 3. Identify the conditions particular to the ‘expert patient’ experience that led to learning regarding client-centered practice. In-depth interviews were conducted with the students subsequent to their ‘expert patient’ experience. Analysis revealed three conditions that together provided the foundation for student experiential learning regarding client-centred practice: interaction with particular persons with stable disability known as ‘expert patients’; students’ requirement to evaluate them and thus ‘experience power’; and explicit opportunities for ‘directed reflection and discussion’. Questions were raised for researchers, health care professional educators and health care professionals regarding the potentially transformative nature of engaging in unfamiliar contexts with openness to learning. The thesis allowed insight into the lived experience of OT students learning with ‘expert patients’; and the admiration, discomfort, humility and gratefulness they experienced while gaining a sense of the meaning of collaboration, respect for autonomy and recognition of expertise. Implications of the research impact all stakeholders in health professional education.