Skills escalator in allied health: a time for reflection and refocus
Lisa G Gilmore1, Joanne H Morris1, Karen Murphy2, Karen Grimmer-Somers3, Saravana Kumar3
1The Canberra Hospital, ACT Government Health Directorate, Canberra, ACT; 2ACT Government Health Directorate, Canberra, ACT; 3International Centre for Allied Evidence, University of South Australia, Adelaide, SA, Australia
Abstract: It is abundantly clear that the health workforce of tomorrow will meet a number of unique challenges. There are a number of drivers for this, including the changing demographics of patients and health professionals, changing working patterns and mobility of the health workforce, evolving models of care, emerging evidence base, altering funding models, and the need to underpin health care service delivery with safety, effectiveness, patient centeredness, efficiency, equity, and timeliness. It is in this time of change that role extension within health disciplines is seen as an important tool to meet some of these challenges. Role extension is viewed as a skills escalator, where practitioners move up the skills escalator within the scope of their discipline, to advance it and then, with training, extend it. Within allied health, in some disciplines, advanced and extended scope of practice initiatives have mushroomed. Often these initiatives have been ad hoc, and opportunistically created in response to local needs and requirements. As these initiatives are local and context-dependent, to date there is very little uniformity or congruency between these initiatives. This has led to variability in implementation, lack of rigorous evaluations and, ultimately, poor long-term sustainability. In this paper, we reflect on a number of key issues, drawing on our own experiences in undertaking such initiatives, which need to be taken into account when considering advanced and extended scope of practice for allied health.
Keywords: allied health, skill escalation, extended scope of practice, advanced scope of practice
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