Five-year review of a regional Allied Health Graduate Program: What value do graduates perceive?

Mrs Kathryn Vick1

1Barwon Health, Clinical Education & Training, Geelong, Australia

For new allied health professionals, there are many challenges during the transition from student life to working as an employee in a busy client-focused setting. Whilst graduates may perceive they are ready for practice, very few feel well prepared, especially regarding tasks such as interacting with other healthcare professionals(1). To aid this transition, the Clinical Education and Training team at Barwon Health (BH) have run an Allied Health Graduate Program (AHGP) since 2014. Invitations are extended to all graduates employed in a cluster of Barwon-South West region health services in Victoria.

The AHGP is designed to enhance peer learning across disciplines and enable individuals going through a similar experience to share and debrief common issues and challenges, becoming a support to each other as they settle into the workforce. Two intakes run annually with seminar topics including: supervision, self-care, sources of support; teamwork and collaboration; understanding roles and responsibilities; interpersonal communication and conflict management; setting career goals; and the importance of safety and quality in healthcare.

Between 2014 and 2018, 111 graduates from 13 professions participated. Three-quarters of the graduates represent Therapy professions, whilst one-quarter represent Sciences(2). The majority of graduates were employed by Barwon Health (85%).

Qualitative analysis of graduate feedback revealed 4 themes as to the perceived benefits of the AHGP: (a) Interprofessional learning; (b) Acquiring new knowledge and skills; (c) Debriefing and discussing experiences with facilitators; and (d) Meeting other graduates and accessing peer support. The most frequently cited benefit perceived by graduates was (d), followed by (c). In their own words:

  • “[The program] is really helpful to meet other grads, especially if you’re new to a town.”
  • “Good content. But the most beneficial part for me was meeting the other grads and being able to debrief / share experiences.”
  • “The program helped me find a sense of belonging in such a big organisation.”

(1) Gray, M., et al. (2012). New graduate occupational therapists’ feelings of preparedness for practice in Australia and Aotearoa/New Zealand. Australian Occupational Therapy Journal, 59, 445–455.

(2) Victorian Department of Health and Human Services. (2016). Allied health categories position paper.

Biography: To be confirmed

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