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Abstract

Purpose: “The Influence of Practice Infrastructure on Practice Progress” was an evaluation review project designed to determine if investment in the infrastructure of an allied health profession would result in improved practice progress within that profession. Practice infrastructure included robust, profession-specific practice councils; local and regional practice leadership; and support for education infrastructure. Method: This review consisted of selecting three professions (psychology, therapeutic recreation, and respiratory therapy) that were at different stages in their practice evolution. Health care providers in these three professions participated in an online survey. Their practice progress was measured against 32 established professional practice benchmarks. Separate focus groups were then conducted in each profession for frontline staff, practice leaders, and operational leaders. Results: The results indicated that the professions with a greater degree of practice infrastructure development scored higher on the practice benchmarks. The project also indicated that a profession’s practice priorities followed a hierarchy of needs that were related to the degree of practice infrastructure in that profession. Conclusions: It was concluded that all three practice infrastructure components are required for optimal practice performance and that the three components are interdependent. There is a need to invest in practice infrastructure, and this is particularly important in a program management model. The risks of not investing in this infrastructure include the loss of professional identify, weak profession advocacy, lack of a common voice, reduced shared decision making, and limited professional growth and development. Ultimately, enhancing practice infrastructure leads to improved practice standardization, clinical integration, and ongoing professional development, which in turn results in improved clinical competencies and outcomes. Future research could focus on the hierarchical placement and status of the regional practice leader positions. It would be interesting to follow one profession longitudinally as components of a professional practice infrastructure are added. The education infrastructure components could be interwoven into the practice goals for the practice leaders and the profession-specific practice councils.

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