Daring Action – Inspiring Allied Health Clinical Leaders to Influence and Lead in real-time

Ms Joan Leo1, Ms Anne Harrison1

1Mercy Health, Melbourne, Australia

Background: The dynamic healthcare environment demands an adaptive, resilient and responsive Allied Health workforce able to contribute to and influence safety and quality of care. It was recognised that to meet these demands required an investment in workforce development to grow clinical leadership capability. A gap analysis identified we needed to grow clinicians knowledge of clinical leadership and confidence to own their sphere of influence in safety and quality in day-to-day practice at the coalface.

Method: An Allied Health Emerging Clinical Leaders Program was developed. Participants were senior Allied Health clinicians at Mercy Hospitals Vic Ltd. The program was designed and delivered as a collaboration between the Allied Health clinical educator and leadership team and included an action learning project. Project evaluation included feedback and pre and post surveys measuring change in knowledge and confidence.

Results: Seventeen Allied Health Clinicians participated in the program. Survey response rate was 77% pre-program and 65% post program. In relation to parameters of knowledge and confidence, the median ranking for application of continuous improvement, appreciative inquiry and change management shifted from unsure to knowledgeable and unsure to confident from pre to post program respectively. A total of 17 consumer identified improvement projects were developed as part of the pilot program. Key learnings identified by participants were to listen more (to others) and talk less, involve consumers early to inform improvement, and grit – having the determination to keep going.

Discussion: Outcomes of the evaluation support development of clinical leadership that is person-centred, responsive to real-time demand, and necessary for ensuring influential allied health services in a growing organisation. The power of this program was in acknowledging, sharing and valuing participants practice wisdom, which gave them the courage to take up leadership, to take risks, to own and be the leaders they are.


Joan Leo is the Allied Health Clinical Education Lead at Mercy Hospitals Victoria with a focus on workforce development, interprofessional learning, educational strategy and design. Her professional background is in podiatry. Joan has published in the area of experiential learning.

Anne Harrison is a physiotherapist with over 30 year’s clinical experience including 20 years of health management experience. She is manager of physiotherapy services at Werribee Mercy Hospital, Mercy Hospitals Victoria Ltd. She has interests in women’s health and translating research into practice as well as health service planning. Anne’s present research is investigating physical activity participation for women diagnosed with GDM. Her qualifications include a Bachelor of Applied Science in Physiotherapy, a Master of Health Administration and she is currently a Professional Doctoral candidate at La Trobe University.

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2009, Canberra (8th NAHC)

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