How can we expand clinical placements to better impact on future workforce development and need? A policy analysis approach

Ms Rachel Yates1

1Universities Australia, Deakin, Australia

Background and aim: Quality clinical placements in pre-registration years are essential to developing a skilled health workforce. They influence how clinicians act, and where they eventually work – with direct implications on health workforce ability and distribution.  Promoting clinical placements in areas of undersupply is therefore important in helping to address workforce need.

Using education and training programs to influence health workforce distribution has been an Australian policy approach for many years. However, policies have largely focused on medicine and/or rural locations. While a rural focus is important (there continues to be a lack of most health disciplines in rural Australia) significant shortages also exist or are forecast in specific service settings. This includes the predicted growth areas of disability and aged care – especially for non-medical workforce such as allied health and nursing.

While there is awareness of the need to expand placements, various policy and other barriers exist to placing health professional students in these settings – despite the many benefits placements bring.

The aim of this presentation is to:

  • highlight the benefits of allied and other health student placements;
  • examine policies and practice that support clinical education and workforce growth in undersupplied areas;
  • describe barriers and enablers to student placement including in aged care and disability services; and
  • propose a model to expand placements to settings of need.

Method: A mixed methods policy analysis approach is used which draws on: case studies; analysis of existing policies and research; and model building.

Results: Results of the analysis will be provided as part of the presentation.

Discussion: The advantages and disadvantages of different approaches will be discussed together with a proposed model to support expanded placements. Broader mechanisms through which more connected clinical education and health workforce policy development can occur will also be canvassed.


Rachel is Policy Director Health and Workforce at Universities Australia. She has previous extensive experience in health policy, research and service delivery both locally and nationally and brings this experience to her current health professional education policy and advocacy role. She is passionate about good policy formulation and especially about how to better connect policy approaches between education and health for effective workforce development.

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