Sustaining clinical placement capacity through partnerships and collaboration

Liza-Jane McBride1, Cate  Fitzgerald2, Claire Costello3, Kristy Perkins4

1Queensland Department of Health, Brisbane, Australia, 2Metro South Health , Brisbane, Australia, 3Children’s Health Queensland, Brisbane, Australia, 4West Moreton Health, Ipswich, Australia

Background: The implementation of a state-wide allied health clinical placement capacity building initiative that provided dedicated clinical education resources since 2009 has enabled a system wide response to the provision of quality clinical placements in an environment of increasing university cohort growth and demand for clinical education placements.

Aim: The study aimed to investigate whether clinical placement capacity achieved through the initiative was being  sustained. Additionally, the study aimed to investigate the factors affecting the efforts of allied health staff to provide placement offers and the perspectives of key internal allied health and external university stakeholders on the barriers and enablers for sustainability of effort.

Methods: Data from 2010-2016 on clinical placement numbers, staff full-time equivalent positions, university program and student cohort data for five professions was reviewed. Qualitative response data from key stakeholder surveys was analysed thematically.

Findings: Key enablers for sustaining placement provision included collaboration between university and health sectors, efficiency through coordination of processes, sustained management support to placement provision, dedicated education roles, outcome data reporting and state-wide profession-specific governance and leadership. The initiative was found to be integral to developing and sustaining innovative placement models that contribute to increased placement offers. Barriers to sustainability centred on resourcing, continued increasing demand for placements and the changing healthcare context. Clinical placement activity continued to grow despite previous perceptions from key stakeholders that capacity had been reached.

Conclusion: Flexibility and responsiveness underpinned by collaboration, information and resource sharing within and across professions is pivotal to sustaining quality pre-entry student placements. Systems to routinely capture and review placement activity and qualitative perspectives have provided valuable feedback. This has allowed for the evolution of the initiative over time to respond to local health service needs and increasing demand for placements in a rapidly changing health service delivery context.


Liza-Jane is the Chief Allied Health Officer for the Department of Health and leads the development, implementation and evaluation of strategies to ensure an appropriately skilled allied health workforce meets the current and future health service needs of Queensland. Liza-Jane is an experienced physiotherapist with over 20 years of practice experience in the public and private sectors in Queensland and overseas. She has postgraduate qualifications in health service management and is a Visiting Fellow with the Queensland University of Technology. Liza-Jane has significant experience in successfully delivering strategic policy results within the Queensland healthcare system, particularly in relation to allied health workforce reform, redesign and education issues.

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