Purpose: Clinical placements associated with university degrees for the allied health professions aim to support the preparation of students for post graduate employment through the practical application of theoretical constructs. However, employers recognise that a range of generic skills and attributes outside of technical and academic achievement impact of work readiness. Allied health clinical educators within Darling Downs Health (DDH) sought to identify these generic characteristics, and their relative importance, with a view to further supporting the work readiness of students completing placements in the district. Method: The study utilised the knowledge and experience of allied health clinical educators, experienced clinical supervisors, and allied health directors, to explore the characteristics thought to be related to work readiness. Participants completed a brief demographic questionnaire before participating in one of three groups which employed the Nominal Group Technique to seek answers to the research question “What do you believe are the most important personal characteristics signalling work readiness in allied health students?Results: Data were analysed by group and then overall, resulting in a complete list of 103 characteristics raised, 37 of which were judged as among the “most important” by study participants. Analysis revealed six characteristics which were identified and voted as among the most important by each independent group. Personal insight and self-awareness rose to the top of the list of most important characteristics, with 16 of the 18 participants voting for this characteristic, and a mean importance rating of 9.3 of a possible 10. Resilience was second on this list, followed by communication skills, organisational skills, lifelong learning, and professionalism. A further nine characteristics were selected by two of the three groups, while an additional 22 characteristics were raised and voted as among the most important by members of a single group. Conclusions and Recommendations: We believe that these results may be of interest to allied health students, allied health staff, universities and training organisations, recruiters, and managers. It is our hope that identification of these characteristics may also lead to the development of targeted education and support programs within DDH to assist students’ growth in these areas.

Author Bio(s)

Maxine O’Brien BSc Hons (Psych) PhD MAPS, has enjoyed a varied career as a psychologist including clinical, teaching, supervision and research roles. In addition to private practice and university commitments, Maxine’s current roles include that of Senior Psychologist and DDH Acting Research Fellow.

Kelli Troy Grad Dip Applied Science (Applied Psych) Assoc. MAPS, has had an extensive career in psychology in both clinical and non-clinical roles. She currently works as Psychology Clinical Educator within Darling Downs Health. Kelli has long been interested in supporting new graduates to successfully transition into the workplace.

Jayne Kirkpatrick BSc MNutDiet GDTL, studied human nutrition and dietetics at Sydney University and has worked as a dietitian, nutrition project coordinator and clinical educator in Australia and the UK over the past 25 years. Jayne’s has a keen interest in education for patients, students and health professionals.


The authors would like to thank the participants in this study for their kind generosity in dedicating precious time and thought to this task.




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