A Sustainable Learning Pathway for Orthotist and Prosthetist Technicians

Mrs Sue Sue Steele-Smith1, Ms  Sue  Aldrich1, Ms  Maria Berarducci1

1Health Education And Training Institute, Gladesville, Australia

The Health Education and Training Institute (HETI) in partnership with the NSW Ministry of Health, has developed an Orthotist and Prosthetist (OP) Technical Assistant Workforce Learning Pathway for NSW Health.  Access to orthotist and prosthetist technical assistant training is a workforce challenge nationally and there is currently no available formal training in NSW.  The NSW Health Professionals Workforce Plan 2012-2022 identified the OP workforce as a ‘small but critical workforce’.  By increasing the capacity of the technical assistant workforce, orthotists and prosthetists could have increased clinical opportunities enabling better patient-care.

HETI has undertaken a needs analysis and program viability assessment into this workforce development issue using semi structured interviews and wide consultation. This included a comprehensive review of existing materials and resources, standards and existing national and international approaches to technician training.  The semi structured interviews were conducted with all NSW OP technicians (n=12) and a sample of OP professionals (n=4), facilitating the determination of core skills required in the OP technician role to meet current patient needs.  Four different learning pathway options were identified and these were further explored at a focus group with relevant stakeholders. The preferred option identified was a pathway customized to the specific needs of this workforce group – the NSW Health OP Technician learning pathway.  This presentation will describe the process undertaken and the resulting outcomes to address this important workforce development initiative.


Sue Steele-Smith has worked for more than 30 years as an Occupational Therapist in a range of clinical settings and has a Masters of Health Science Education. She has also worked as an education consultant and RTO manager which involved training more than 500 allied health assistants, both in NSW and nationally.  She was involved in developing the Allied Health Assistant Framework.  Following her move to HETI she has been involved in the development, implementation and evaluation of Allied Health specific training programs.  This has included Lymphoedema, Allied Health Assistant supervisor training, Clinical supervision, the Allied health Governance guide and more recently Guardianship application training workshops.

Sue Aldrich has worked for over 30 years as an Occupational Therapist in a range of clinical settings including aged care, community visiting, and inpatient rehabilitation. Sue has a Masters of Arts in Education and Work. Prior to commencing at HETI Sue was involved with the development and delivery of training to allied health assistants across the state and she also developed and delivered the Diploma of Rehabilitation amongst other health and disability related courses.

Maria Berarducci leads the Allied Health team at HETI to support allied health education and training across the NSW Health system. Before joining HETI in 2016, Maria was a Clinical Specialist in Speech Pathology at St Vincent’s Hospital, Sydney.   Maria has 20 years of clinical experience and for the majority of this time has been involved in the education of undergraduate and postgraduate speech pathologists.  Maria also holds a Master’s degree by research.

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