Structured Interprofessional Shadowing Toolkit

Sharla King's picture
Submitted by Sharla King on Nov 15, 2022 - 8:44am CST

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Interprofessional shadowing (IPSh) provides learners with insights on the roles and responsibilities of other professionals.  With advanced planning that aims to reduce barriers to implementation, structured IPSh can be designed to meet interprofessional education competencies.  Further developing shadowing experiences based on the self-regulated learning theory, structured IPSh evolves beyond learning about roles and responsibilities to exploring first hand the impact of collaborative practice on system outcomes.  With IPSh, the focus moves beyond clinical skills to a greater awareness of issues related to collaborative practice, such as attitudes towards other professionals and power dynamics between professionals (Wright et al, 2012; Thompson et al, 2008).  The Structured Interprofessional Shadowing (SIPSh) Toolkit provides a step-by-step approach to the development, implementation, and assessment of an interprofessional shadowing experience focused on collaborative practice.

The SIPSh toolkit describes two approaches to the implementation of IPSh: 1) Interprofessional Guided, Active and Purposeful Shadowing (IGAPS); and 2) Structured Interprofessional Active Observation (SIAO) and includes their respective evaluations. Evidence from early data supports the effectiveness of structured IPSh on helping learners appreciate the roles and responsibilities of other professionals and the impact of collaboration on interprofessional communications, teamwork, and the delivery of care.  Significant improvement in self-reported behavioral changes for the roles and responsibilities competency was reported, measured using the Interprofessional Collaborative Competencies Attainment Survey. Three key recommendations for developing and implementing IPSh experiences: 1) Building a successful and sustainable structured IPSh program requires advance planning. Communicate with all key stakeholders (e.g. clinical coordinators, preceptors and clinicians) early to ensure clarity of roles and clear expectations for the experience. Develop a plan to raise awareness for IPSh and the availability of IPSh tools, and share information about the IPSh program with all stakeholders; 2) Grounded in self-regulation learning theory, the toolkit is designed to accommodate varying learner levels from the novice to the advanced learner. A successful IPSh experience is driven by developing the mechanism for which students can process and reflect on the experience; and 3) Formally evaluate the experience. Gathering input and perspectives from not only students, but clinicians, preceptors and faculty about the IPSh experience serves as a means to continually improve the experience for all involved. 

A structured approach to IPSh provides novice and advanced learners with exposure to and experience with broad issues in interprofessional collaborative practice. This learning pedagogy is relevant to all health and social care professions.  Advanced planning and building in mechanisms to assess student learning and evaluate program success are key to implementation. The SIPSh Toolkit provides resources to support the development and implementation of your own IPSh experiences. 



Thompson DA, Holzmueller CG, Lubomski LH, Pronovost PJ. View the world through a different lens: Shadowing another provider. Jt Comm J Qual Patient Saf. 2008;34(10):614-618.

Wright A, Hawkes G, Baker B, Lindqvist SM.  Reflections and unprompted observations by healthcare students of an interprofessional shadowing visit. J Interprof Care. 2012;26(4):305–311. doi: 10.3109/13561820.2012.678507


Veronica Young
Melanie Garrison
Sharla King