Mrs Joyti Zwar1
1University of South Australia, Department of Rural Health, Allied Health and Human Performance, Whyalla, Australia
The University of South Australia, Department of Rural Health established a community clinic at its Regional campus in Whyalla 2018, providing rural clinical placement opportunities for Exercise Physiology, Occupational Therapy, Physiotherapy and Podiatry students.
An opportunity to develop an interprofessional clinic presented itself in 2020, when key stakeholders identified a need for a Falls and Balance service. A clinic model was established, involving Allied Health students in provision of a weekly falls risk assessment service to consumers within the Whyalla community.
Final year Occupational therapy (6), Physiotherapy (12) and Podiatry (12) students were provided with a three hour interprofessional learning (IPL) session on their first day of placement. This session aimed to foster learning about other professions’ roles in falls prevention and orientate students to the falls and balance (FaB) clinic. The Occupational Therapy and Physiotherapy students subsequently ran the clinical sessions under supervision, with support from Podiatry students in terms of identification/screening of clinic clients and subsequent referrals.
Students were asked to complete the Readiness for Interprofessional Learning Scale (RIPLS) prior to and at completion of participation in the FaB clinic as well as a qualitative questionnaire. Across the domains of the RIPLS student perceptions of interprofessional practice were improved and strengthened, although the majority agreed with the importance of IPL experiences prior to FaB clinic participation.
Positive learning experiences were described by students about professional practice, person centred care and falls prevention. Students expressed their thoughts of the benefits of interdisciplinary practice:
“Teamwork within a Multi-D setting, as well as the incredible learning that occurs from talking and debriefing with other students in a different field of Allied Health. The ability to draw on an interdisciplinary experience, as we were able to complete assessments that are predominately completed by Physiotherapist. Having an insight into what Pod’s and EP’s do for work. Increased confidence with advocating for our OT profession.”
Long term consideration should also be given to the inclusion of other health professional students, including nursing, social work and exercise physiology as well as the consumer satisfaction of a student clinic model.
My current role with UniSA is within the Department of Rural Health as Physiotherapy Academic, based in the Port Pirie office.
Joyti Zwar is a Physiotherapist with extensive rural and remote clinical experience within South Australia and New Zealand with experience in clinical education, health service leadership and management and clinical service delivery across a range of settings.
She has a keen interest in the areas Interprofessional Education, Rural Health and Geriatric care.