Facilitating organisational change to enhance rural interprofessional education: A process evaluation

Dr Priya Martin1, Associate Professor Monica Moran2, Ms Nicky Graham3, Dr Anne Hill4

1Cunningham Centre, Darling Downs Health, Toowoomba, Australia, 2Western Australian Centre for Rural Health, The University of Western Australia, Geraldton, Australia, 3Children’s Health Queensland, Brisbane, Australia, 4The University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia

Background: Given the workforce challenges in rural Australia, there continues to be a lack of structured interprofessional education (IPE) opportunities in clinical settings. The Rural Interprofessional Education and Supervision (RIPES) model of student placement was developed and implemented in 2017-18 to address this gap. An advisory group consisting of senior state-wide health and university partners facilitated implementation of this model in two rural Queensland sites. An evaluation of the advisory group processes over the 18 months of the rollout was conducted to map the approaches used by the group to facilitate organisational change in order to implement the RIPES model.

Method: The nine-member advisory group was interprofessional and had a total of eleven teleconference meetings. Evaluative focus group discussions were held at the half-way point and after the final advisory group meeting. A focus group guide was used, consisting of nine open-ended questions and further prompts. Discussions were recorded, transcribed verbatim and data analysed using content analysis.

Results: Members acknowledged the difficulties in coordinating a diverse group and addressing the challenge of finding time that suited everyone. Members also commented on the lack of role clarity in the group initially as group members held different strategic and operational roles. However, with time, role clarity and collaborative leadership were achieved. The different expertise of members (project management, IPE evaluation, strategic leadership, placement allocation) were identified and utilised at different stages of the project to achieve successful outcomes. Leadership, sustainability, linkages, knowledge exchange, and thinking beyond uni-professional boundaries emerged as key themes.

Discussion: Leading academic and health sector partnerships, and developing and implementing innovative IPE models can be complex and challenging. Understanding the processes, barriers and enablers that leadership groups experience can inform the development of governance frameworks in order to facilitate sustainability of innovative IPE models.

Acknowledgement – RIPES advisory group members


Nicky Graham has worked as a Speech Pathologist across a number of rural, regional and metropolitan Queensland Health facilities since 1998 and has been employed in the Statewide Speech Pathology Clinical Education and Training Program Manager position since 2011. Nicky is passionate about supporting the speech pathology profession to deliver high quality clinical education and learning pathways within the healthcare environment.

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