Responding to the growing demand for practice education: are we building sustainable solutions?

Hamilton, Anita, Copley, Jodie, Thomas, Yvonne, Edwards, Ann, Broadbridge, Jacqui, Bonassi, Marianne, Fitzgerald, Cate, and Newton, Julie (2015) Responding to the growing demand for practice education: are we building sustainable solutions? Australian Occupational Therapy Journal, 62. pp. 265-270.

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The Australian Government employment projections suggest that occupational therapy should see the third highest growth of all 'Professionals', with an estimated growth of 21.9% to November 2018 (Labour Market Information Portal, 2014). In line with this growth, the higher education sector has responded by providing more occupational therapy programmes to meet the projected workforce need (Larkin & Watchorn, 2012). In 2014, it is estimated that there are over 4300 students enrolled in occupational therapy programs in 19 Australian universities (personal communication L. Adamson, May, 2014). The increase in student numbers across Australia has placed pressure on the capacity of higher education providers to source sufficient and suitable practice education opportunities for students (Larkin & Watchorn). These students will require a combined total of 4.3 million hours or 537,500 days of practice education over the next four years, placing significant pressure on universities and practice settings to meet the requirement of 1000 hours of practice education per student for entry to practice.

While employment figures are increasing in occupational therapy, there have been changes made to the structure of health and other systems where occupational therapists are employed and which have traditionally provided the majority of practice education hours. Changes have been due to reduced public funding to both community and the acute health sectors (Rosen, Gurr, Fanning & Owen, 2012) and changes in employment models such as outsourcing of health services (Young, 2005). In this article, the authors will outline how stakeholders have created innovative solutions to meet the growing demand for practice education, yet asking, are these solutions suitable and/or sustainable? We will identify who we believe are the key stakeholders for practice education and call for the creation of a national body to address the growing demand for practice education opportunities. The authors believe that a coordinated approach to assessing tensions and addressing barriers and opportunities for practice education will promote the management of practice education as a shared professional concern across the country.

Item ID: 44396
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1440-1630
Date Deposited: 15 Jun 2016 00:22
FoR Codes: 11 MEDICAL AND HEALTH SCIENCES > 1199 Other Medical and Health Sciences > 119999 Medical and Health Sciences not elsewhere classified @ 50%
13 EDUCATION > 1301 Education Systems > 130103 Higher Education @ 50%
SEO Codes: 92 HEALTH > 9202 Health and Support Services > 920201 Allied Health Therapies (excl. Mental Health Services) @ 50%
93 EDUCATION AND TRAINING > 9303 Curriculum > 930302 Syllabus and Curriculum Development @ 50%
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