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Ensuring graduates can be effective members of a healthcare team

Published:14 August 2019

TOP: L-R Occupational Therapy Senior Lecturer Narelle Henwood, Speech Pathology Clinical Education Coordinator Leisa Skinner and a visitor from the University of Newcastle, Associate Professor Carole James. BELOW: Occupational Therapy students Alyssa Meyer (left) and Nyssa Tait.

CQUniversity is keen to ensure its allied health graduates can become effective members of a care team or, more pointedly, to 'play nicely in the inter-professional sandpit'.

That's why Speech Pathology, Occupational Therapy and Clinical Psychology students took part in an inter-professional learning experience in Rockhampton and via videoconference this week.

Among them were Occupational Therapy second-years Nyssa Tait and Alyssa Meyer.

Nyssa is a mum of two young children who has previously worked as an office manager for a mental health service. She also studied jewellery-making and took commissions for her artwork.

"Getting to hear clients' stories first hand at the mental health service was really meaningful," she says.

"My husband had some health issues and, when he stopped work, that's when I decided to go into study and I'm looking to go into a mental health-related area of OT after graduation."

Nyssa kicked off her student journey thanks to 'life-changing' support from an Adam Scott Foundation Scholarship.

Alyssa's post-school journey started with admin work roles and plenty of travelling but then she set her sights on a career in the occupational therapy sector.

"I would like to focus on OT relating to children, primarily, or possibly have a rehabilitation focus," she says.

"It's really interesting looking at the other professions' perspectives and how they look at the cases we are talking about."

Senior Lecturer in OT Narelle Henwood has this week focused on ensuring students can develop "an understanding of their own and other professional roles in regard to developing a team care plan for an older person with complex care needs".

"This learning is tailored to the students' level of existing knowledge and skill, even though students are from different year levels and programs," Ms Henwood says.

"It enables students to understand that there are multiple ways to approach problem-solving as they develop an assessment and intervention plan for their case in inter-professional groups.

"The inter-professional groups are conducted in face-to-face synchronous meetings facilitated by teaching staff. There were students from Bundaberg and Clinical Psychology students on placement at various locations who were all able to connect in via videoconference.

"The main outcome is that students take responsibility for developing the clients' treatment plan.

"The teaching and learning research we are doing also indicates that students realise that they need to further develop their capacity to work together in the 'interprofessional sandpit'.

"At my recent presentation about our research at the 28th OT Australia National Conference in Sydney, I was approached by Associate Professor Carole James who was interested to observe what we are doing in this space so she can develop a similar student learning experience at the University of Newcastle."