Educating the support-level health workforce – culture change that is a win-win for all

Ms Andrea Verde1, Mr Brett Anderson2, Ms Simone Taylor2, Ms Margaret Carroll2, Ms Kathy Maggs1

1Clinical Education Unit, Austin Health, Heidelberg, Australia, 2Pharmacy Department, Austin Health, Heidelberg, Australia

Improved utilisation of the support-level health workforce is key to meeting the growing demands on our healthcare system. Expanded support roles potentially increase clinical capacity and job satisfaction, allowing health-professionals to focus on higher-level tasks.

To develop and evaluate a comprehensive training program for pharmacy technicians to educate patients about discharge medicines.

Preparatory steps comprised: formation of a working party of pharmacists, pharmacy technicians and clinical educators; survey of attitudes towards proposed roles; literature, legislation, professional body and governmental framework review, to determine scope of practice; role risk analysis.

The training program that was developed addressed the clinical environment, communication skills, medicine and surgical procedure knowledge. Training comprised online modules, active observation and stepped activities followed by indirect supervision.

Patient satisfaction with their education experience was measured.

100 patients were educated by a technician and 100 by a pharmacist, regarding 364 and 328 medicine items, respectively. Baseline demographics were similar across the groups. All patients reported high levels of overall satisfaction, irrespective of who provided their education.

The extended scope technician role raised several concerns within the pharmacy department including: patients asking out-of-scope questions, complexity of some medicines and clinical reasoning in care delivery. Such concerns were incorporated into the comprehensive risk analysis and informed the training program content. No such concerns became issues during the project.

When change management principles are applied in education, innovative models can be implemented and culture changed, resulting in a highly satisfactory patient and staff experience.


Andrea Verde

Allied Health Clinical Educator (sciences)

With over ten years experience in the Victorian health sector, Andrea has a passion for robust staff education and learning opportunities that support them to provide high quality patient care.

As the Allied Health educator (sciences) at Austin Health, Andrea works with the sciences to implement evidence-based learning opportunities, utilising her Masters’ of Clinical Education qualification.

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