Mental health services are under continuous pressure to develop multidisciplinary service models in response to government policy. Mental health professionals, however, continue to be trained in isolation with little preparation for working within a multidisciplinary environment. This thesis explored the development of professional identification amongst nine students in their first year of qualifying training. It focussed on their understanding of their role and the roles of other mental health professionals, specifically nursing, social work and occupational therapy. It also focused on the impact of interprofessional education (IPE) and work-based placements. The research undertaken in this thesis was framed by a social constructionist approach and utilised semi-structured interview data collection methods, discourse analysis and the analysis of course syllabii to explore student experiences. The findings indicate that there may be benefits that can be achieved through IPE regarding enabling students to understand their professional roles within the broader context of health and social care. IPE can offer a means of preparing social work, nursing and OT students for the multidisciplinary team environments that they will be required to work within should they choose to work in mental health services. This thesis suggests that the impact of placement experiences within the first year of study on identity and knowledge of own roles and those of other professions, whether in MDTs or uni-disciplinary teams is significant. These findings indicate that consideration should be given by education providers to the weight and significance of the first practice based experiences, as a potent learning and development experience that can shape professional identity and understanding
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