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Training the next generation

Curtin grant will make emerging health professionals job ready.

Curtin University is set to produce job ready health professionals who can handle complex client cases due to a new training initiative giving students experience of working alongside peers from different disciplines.

A $1.7million federal government grant will fund an innovative program designed to train the next generation of medical and health science professionals, and expose students to clinical care in the community.

The grant has provided funding for Curtin to partner with Brightwater Care Group and UWA to create a unique program which educates students in teams where they share knowledge and skills from their respective fields to provide high quality, client-centred care.

The program began as a pilot in late 2009 with only three professions. But it has expanded to students of physiotherapy, occupational therapy, speech pathology, social work, dietetics, pharmacy, nursing and medicine training in Brightwater’s aged and disabled community care facilities in Perth’s northern suburbs.

The students’ learning experience will be supported and assessed by formally trained clinical educators tasked with ensuring the students are competent to practise in a collaborative healthcare team.

Margo Brewer, Curtin’s director of interprofessional clinical practice said community-based, residential and home care provided an ideal training ground for interprofessional learning.

“Caring for clients in a non-traditional practice learning environment exposes students to complex, chronic conditions where health professionals need to work together to get the best outcome for the clients,” Brewer said.

Professor Jill Downie, Curtin’s Pro Vice-Chancellor Health Sciences, said a holistic approach to training would ultimately improve the effectiveness and efficiency of client care.

“Students will benefit from understanding the principles and concepts of each other’s health discipline which will help them make informed decisions and achieve better outcomes for clients,” Downie said.

Dr Penny Flett, CEO Brightwater Care Group, said taking students out of the classroom to work together in a real life setting will immeasurably enhance their future careers in healthcare services.

“Our team at Brightwater will provide invaluable support to students as they learn professional standards in a collaborative environment. We would hope their interprofessional learning experience would influence them to consider a career in care services,” Flett said.

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