BACKGROUND: The Readiness for Interprofessional Learning Scale is among the first scales developed for measurement of attitude towards interprofessional learning (IPL). However, the conceptual framework of the RIPLS still lacks clarity. We investigated the association of the RIPLS with professional identity, empathy and motivation, with the intention of relating RIPLS to other well-known concepts in healthcare education, in an attempt to clarify the concept of readiness.
METHODS: Readiness for interprofessional learning, professional identity development, empathy and motivation of students for medical school, were measured in all 6 years of the medical curriculum. The association of professional identity development, empathy and motivation with readiness was analyzed using linear regression.
RESULTS: Empathy and motivation significantly explained the variance in RIPLS subscale Teamwork & Collaboration. Gender and belonging to the first study year had a unique positive contribution in explaining the variance of the RIPLS subscales Positive and Negative Professional Identity, whereas motivation had no contribution. More compassionate care, as an affective component of empathy, seemed to diminish readiness for IPL. Professional Identity, measured as affirmation or denial of the identification with a professional group, had no contribution in the explanation of the variance in readiness.
CONCLUSIONS: The RIPLS is a suboptimal instrument, which does not clarify the 'what' and 'how' of IPL in a curriculum. This study suggests that students' readiness for IPE may benefit from a combination with the cognitive component of empathy ('Perspective taking') and elements in the curriculum that promote autonomous motivation.