Social Work and Nursing Students' Perceptions of the Social Determinants of Health Based on Practice and Educational Experiences

Janet U. Schneiderman, Julie Cederbaum, Ellen Olshansky
2019 Health, Interprofessional Practice and Education  
PURPOSE Although social workers and nurses work together in healthcare settings, there are tensions between their roles. Both professions embrace the concept of the social determinants of health (SDOH), but less is known about how the professions understand SDOH. METHODS Using semi-structured interviews with 25 masters' level nursing and social work students, this qualitative descriptive study explored the educational and practice experiences relating to the SDOH. RESULTS Both nursing and
more » ... h nursing and social work students recognized that socioeconomic, patient/client educational, and access factors contribute to health and healthcare. Subtle differences in emphasis included a broader focus among social work students of the influence of SDOH on vulnerability/disparities and communities. While nursing students focused on vulnerability/disparities, they emphasized the effects of SDOH on specific health conditions. Both groups of students expressed that their exposure to people unlike themselves in their clinical/field educational experiences helped them learn about the SDOH. Nursing students stressed that interprofessional teamwork was vital to addressing SDOH, whereas social work students emphasized cultural awareness and avoiding stereotypes were necessary elements. All students wanted more information about health policies. CONCLUSION The shared understanding of both nursing and social work graduate students have on the effect that SDOH have on health and healthcare can provide a common language. Employing SDOH as a framework for interprofessional education could encourage shared understanding among professions and a purpose for interprofessional educational field opportunities, that would both support learning about the SDOH and collaborative practice with underserved communities.
doi:10.7710/98 fatcat:ty544tzfyjczpgcgdmmujvy3zq