Towards interdisciplinary practice: a shared community-based practice experience

  • Gérard C. Filies
  • Nondwe Mlenzana
  • Oswell Khondowe


Service-learning is an educational approach that allows for a structured learning experience for students, combining community service with preparation and reflection. Through service learning, students not only provide community service but also learn about the context in which the service is provided.
Shared Community–Based Practice (SCBP) is a pioneering service-learning initiative of the University of the Western Cape (UWC) for all health and welfare disciplines located within a community setting. It is unique in the sense that it affords students from discipline–specific domains, an opportunity to practice interdisciplinary in a structured and coordinated manner. SCBP was designed to meet discipline-specific, multidisciplinary and personal goals through the development and implementation of an intervention care plan. Four centres in Nyanga and Mitchelll’s Plain were targeted for placement of students in the Community and Health Sciences Faculty at UWC. Focus group discussions were held with the centres personnel and the needs of the centres were identified. Interventions were designed based on these needs.
The main themes identified included the need for training, awareness and lack of resources. Implementation of the projects had its challenges but students were able to overcome them.
Shared community based practice is an initiative that can be used effectively in communities in an interdisciplinary manner.


Andrews, G., & Pillay, Y. (2004). Strategic priorities for the National Health System 2004-2009: contributions towards building a model development state in South Africa. Pretoria, Health Systems Trust.

Doyle, Y. & Thomas, P. (1996). Promoting Health Through Primary Health Care: challenges in taking a strategic approach. Health Education Journal, 55 (1): 3 – 10.

Education White Paper 3: A Programme for the Transformation of Higher Education. 24 July 1997. Department of Education

Eyler, J., & D. E. Giles, J. (1999). Where's the

Learning in Service-Learning? San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Hull, R. 2006 Annual Report. University of the Western Cape Community Rehabilitation Project. Unpublished document.

Keleher, H. (2006). Community-based shared.mental health care: a model of collaboration. Australian Journal of Primary Health, 12 (2): 90

Torkington, C., Lymbery, M., Millward, A., Murfin, M

& Richell, B. (2003). Shared practice learning: social work and district nurse students learning together: redesigning social work education for tommorow. Social Work Education, 22, (2): 165 –175.

Waggie, F. (2004). Interdisciplinary Community- Based Practice: A 4th year level community- based interdisciplinary core course for health science students, Discussion Document. University of the Western Cape, Faculty of

Community and Health Sciences, Bellville.