Allied Health Education Framework Developed to Support Knowledge, Understanding and Implementation of Research in Allied Health Clinical Education

Dr. Andrea Bialocerkowski and Dr. Clare Delany

At a large metropolitan teaching hospital in Melbourne, Australia, an allied health education framework has been developed to support knowledge, understanding and implementation of research in allied health clinical education. To facilitate this educational aim, the position of an Allied Health Clinical Educator has been established. Two important assumptions underlie this educational framework and educator role. The first is that there is a body of literature comprising both research and theory that is relevant to a broad group of allied health practitioners in their work as clinical educators. Literature reviews, which have collated research evidence and the theories underpinning clinical education, as well as the application of this knowledge to clinical teaching, have been published. This fulfils the first assumption. The second assumption is that individual practitioners who work in different departments and disciplines will be able to access and make use of the clinical education literature to inform their clinical teaching practices.

Dr Clare Delany and Dr Andrea Bialocerkowski, Senor Lecturers from the School of Physiotherapy, The University of Melbourne, have recently begun to examine the second assumption. They surveyed a group of allied health practitioners at the Royal Melbourne Hospital, to evaluate personal and organizational factors that influenced their ability to access and implement clinical education research evidence into clinical teaching practices. They hypothesised that clinical educators’ self-efficacy in evidence based clinical education (their ability to use evidence from clinical education literature), would be influenced by similar types of organizational and personal factors that have been shown to be important in evidence based clinical practice, and that similar barriers would be evidence across the allied health disciplines. The allied practitioners who took part in the survey spanned the disciplines of Dietetics / Nutrition, Facial prosthetics, Music Therapy, Occupational Therapy, Orthotics and Prosthetics, Physiotherapy, Podiatry, Psychology, Social Work and Speech Therapy.

Preliminary analysis of the results are summarised in the following 4 major themes:

  1. Clinical education literature is a necessary in part of clinical education practice.
  2. Majority of clinicians, however, have not had formal training in searching for literature.
  3. Hospital departments acknowledge the importance of current clinical education research findings in the clinical education process. However they do not provide protected time for searching, appraising and applying clinical education research.A

The researchers identified that structural changes are required to empower allied health clinicians to identify and apply clinical education literature to their clinical teaching practices, irrespective of their allied health discipline. We are currently working with Allied Health Clinical Educator at the Royal Melbourne Hospital to develop strategies and resources to not only address this issue, but that can be used across all allied health disciplines.

*For more information regarding this research, please contact Dr Clare Delany ( c.delany@unimelb.edu.au)or Dr Andrea Bialocerkowski (aebial@unimelb.edu.au).