Establishing a shared terminology and Process for Transdisciplinary Practice Development

Ms Clare Byrne1, A/Prof Lisa  Somerville1,2, Ms Dina Watterson1

1Alfred Health, , , 2La Trobe University,

Definitions for Advanced and Extended Scope of Practice within a discipline are well defined within the Allied Health credentialing, competency and capability framework (DHHS, 2016), however it does not provide clear guidance for how to manage and address roles with horizontal sharing of skills across disciplines. Alfred Health sought to establish consistent terminology and understanding within the organisation on how to manage and define roles that cross traditional allied health profession boundaries with horizontal skill sharing and how to determine which of these constitute advanced practice.

A consensus process was followed with the Allied Health Scope of Practice (SOP) Committee and Allied Health leaders at Alfred Health to review literature and provide recommendations on agreed language, definitions and processes. The recommendations were reviewed and endorsed by the Allied Health SOP Committee and the Allied Health Executive Committee.

Alfred Health now have agreed terminology and definitions for horizontal sharing of skills, transdisciplinary practice and criteria to assist in determining if transdisciplinary practice is advanced practice. The definitions highlight that not all transdisciplinary practice is advanced, but that consideration needs to be given to the depth and breadth of skill, level of risk, complexity, decision-making and independence required of the practitioner.   There has also been identification of the key differences for transdisciplinary role development in the approval and planning process.

With the imperative to explore innovative models of practice there is a need for organisations to have clear and consistent processes in place to facilitate professional governance. For these processes to be implemented it is essential to first have agreement on the core definitions and terminology for transdisciplinary practice.  The next steps for Alfred Health are to ensure that the definitions and terminology are adopted across the organisation and that a consistent credentialing process for transdisciplinary practice development is implemented.

Department of Health (2016) Allied Health credentialing competency and capability framework (revised edition)


Lisa Somerville has held various senior management roles at Alfred Health since 2005, and is currently Director of Allied Health.  In 2017, she was appointed Adjunct Associate Professor in the School of Allied Health at Latrobe University. Lisa has led many largescale workforce innovations which include: the STRIDE project in partnership with Ambulance Victoria,  Victorian Assistant Workforce Model (VAWM) and AHA implementation program in collaboration with Victorian Department of Health and Monash Health. Lisa graduated from Curtin University of Technology with a Bachelor of Science in Occupational Therapy and has also completed a Masters of Public Health at Monash University.

Dina Watterson is the Associate Director of Allied Health at Alfred where she supports the professional and operational governance of the Allied Health Service.  She has previously worked in management, clinical and project roles in Public and Private Health and the University sector.  Dina’s experience and interests are in service innovation, workforce redesign and measurement of Allied Health contribution to quality health care.

Clare Byrne is the Allied Health Executive Officer at Alfred Health, having previously worked in Project and Clinical roles in Public and Private Health organisations. She has experience in Quality and Governance and Quality. In her current role she works directly with allied health clinicians and managers to ensure the allied health workforce is responsive, aligned and integrated to provide best clinical care across all Alfred Health clinical environments.  Clare has been responsible for the interdisciplinary leadership across allied health disciplines in implementing a systematic approach to clinical governance across allied health.

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