Evaluation of a modified, evidence-based Allied Health Graduate Program implemented during the Covid-19 pandemic

Ms Nalini Natesan1, Mr Rodney Sturt1, Ms Marnie Graco1

1Alfred Health, Melbourne, Australia

Introduction

Allied health graduates (AHGs) are faced with challenges when entering the healthcare workforce. Support, supervision and professional development are essential to help graduates with the transition from student to health professional.

In the state of Victoria, it is an expectation that AHGs participate in a formal structured Allied Health Graduate Program (AHGP). In 2020, despite the Covid-19 pandemic, an inaugural AHGP was created and implemented virtually at a tertiary health service to compliment existing organisational orientation and discipline-specific supervision and support.

Methods

A mixed-methods study design incorporated:

  1. Adaption – of the program in the Statewide Interprofessional Allied Health Graduate Program Manual for virtual delivery.
  2. Delivery – from July to November 2020, an eight session AHGP was implemented and co-facilitated remotely using Microsoft Teams.
  3. Evaluation – graduates were invited to participate in a focus group, which aimed to understand their experience of the virtually delivered program.
  4. Refinement – the next iteration of the AHGP was refined based on the results.

 Results

Upon completion of the AHGP, a total of six graduates participated in a focus group and the following themes were identified. Socialisation, networking, support and sharing of experiences were all motivators for participation. Clinical demand, rotation changes, competing priorities and the length of the sessions were all barriers to participation. Support from seniors, supervisors and managers enabled participation. Accessibility was a key advantage of a virtually delivered program and an enabler for attendance. Virtual delivery affected the depth of discussion and ease of building interprofessional relationships. Small breakout groups and co-facilitation helped promote interactivity and engagement. A hybrid approach with both virtual and face-to-face delivery was recommended for future AHGPs.

Conclusions

An inaugural AHGP at this tertiary health service was implemented during the Covid-19 pandemic. Despite the challenges this posed, there were benefits to a virtually delivered program. With increasing demands on the healthcare system, virtual delivery and remote facilitation offer an alternative means of delivering an AHGP.


Biography:

Nalini is an experienced podiatrist with a passion for advancing clinical care in the management of the high-risk foot. She is also an Allied Health Clinical Educator at Alfred Health with a focus on engaging Allied Health staff and students in clinical education activities, specifically undergraduates, graduates, new staff and Allied Health Assistants. Nalini recently implemented and evaluated a virtually delivered interprofessional Allied Health Graduate Program during the COVID-19 pandemic.

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