The impact of restructuring on professional identity of Allied Health Professionals when aligned to Clinical Programs in a metropolitan health service

Ms Anita Wilton1, Dr Judi Porter2, Ms Gayle Smith1

1Eastern Health, Melbourne, Australia, 2Deakin University, Burwood, Australia

A review of allied health service provision at a large multi site metropolitan resulted in a set of eight recommendations to strengthen clinical governance, clinical supervision and standardise the operational management of allied health staff across the health service.  Implementation of the recommendations was undertaken over the next four years resulting in a single allied health professional  and operational structure, enhanced clinical leadership roles  for heads of allied health professions and alignment of allied health staff to multi-professional operational teams. Evaluation of the impact of the implementation was undertaken through evaluation of the reported professional identity of the staff groups. Maintenance of professional identity, particularly during periods of organizational restructure, is critical within modern complex healthcare systems as professional identity contributes to psychological wellbeing of staff and leaders.

This study aimed to evaluate change in professional identity of allied health staff occurring as a result of a major organizational restructure. Feedback was collected from allied health staff before (n=236) and after (n=197) the restructure using an online questionnaire including 10 questions that considered the strength of professional identity of the individual with their own professional group. Professional identity of allied health staff was high before and after the organizational restructure, although several individual statements, and overall professional identity, declined significantly post-restructure. It was difficult to attribute these

changes solely to the restructure due to some differences in demographic characteristics in the two cohorts.  This research suggests that the professional identity of bed based staff in particular is influenced as a consequence of organizational restructure. It is therefore important that this is considered and

managed proactively in future restructures.


Biography:

Anita is Director of Allied Health at Eastern Health following a career in dietetics specialising in diabetes and enteral nutrition provision. She is presenting this work on behalf of Dr Judi Porter and Gayle Smith.   When not at work, Anita is involved in a community theatre group where she swaps her health service leadership role for the fun of stage management and wrangling the creative and those who try to be.

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