Upskilling in paediatric dysphagia: Ironically, there’s no cookbook!

Dr Jeanne Marshall1,2, Nicky Graham1

1Queensland Children’s Hospital, Children’s Health Queensland, South Brisbane, Australia, 2The University of Queensland, School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences, St Lucia, Australia

Background: Although dysphagia management is a well-established area of speech pathology (SP) practice, work in paediatric dysphagia is relatively new. Demand for skill in this area is increasing, however many SP’s identify with low confidence. Many challenges exist in tailoring professional development requirements to suit learning styles, clinician location, service delivery models and client complexity.

Aims: This study presents the outcomes from the development of an online learning package and pilot telesupervision clinic for clinicians across Queensland Health.

Method: An online learning package was developed in consultation with a working group of SP’s from Queensland Health, and an expert panel of professionals across Australia. The package aimed to promote a culture of flexible self-directed learning, rather than a competency-based skills assessment model. A small group of participants also elected to participate in fortnightly clinical supervision via telehealth. A pre-post survey regarding confidence as well as perceptions about this model was completed. Line managers participated in a structured interview, which was still being implemented at the time of writing.

Results: To date, there have been >160 interprofessional enrolments in the online course from within Queensland Health, and the course will shortly be released externally. There were 12 participants from 6 hospital and health services across Queensland who participated in the telesupervision clinic. Participants indicated a significant improvement in willingness to practice independently across a range of clinical areas, particularly those that had been targeted specifically during the clinic. It is hypothesized that line managers will see the value of expert clinical supervision, but will identify a barrier with regards to cost.

Conclusions: Although we have not developed a training recipe, the online course and telesupervision pilot was identified as being valuable. Further investigation into novel practice development opportunities is warranted given the increasing clinical demands in this area.

Disclosure statement (financial and/or non-financial)

The authors were supported with thanks by a Study, Education and Research Trust Account Funding Scheme provided by Children’s Health Queensland.


Jeanne is a speech pathologist practising at the Queensland Children’s Hospital. She has a PhD in the area of paediatric dysphagia

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