Creating quality practice education experiences: Impact of Barwon Health’s occupational therapy practice education program

Ms  Sue Rowan1, Ms Kelli  Nicola-Richmond2, Associate Professor Michael Curtin3, Mrs Nikki Lyons1, Ms Nicole  Shaw1

1Barwon Health, North Geelong, Australia

2Deakin University, Geelong, Australia

3Charles Sturt University, Albury, Australia


Aim: A collaboration between Barwon Health and Deakin and Charles Sturt universities sought to evaluate the impact of a new Practice Education Program on the quality of the learning experience for both students and supervisors, and the capacity of the health service to offer placements.


Method: A mixed methods research approach using an on-line survey was used to gather perceptions of students and supervisors of the Program.  All students and supervisors who participated in the Program in 2015 were invited to complete the survey at the completion of placement.

Results: Thirty-six occupational therapy students and 42 supervisors completed the survey.  Students indicated that the Program assisted them to feel welcome prepared and supported. The initial group orientation, the tutorials during placement, and the facilitated reflective practice sessions were reported as particularly beneficial. The supervisors indicated that these elements of the Program reduced their workload when supervising students, which contributed to the health service increasing the number of placements offered . Capacity increased by 945 days from 2013 to 2016.


Significance of the findings to allied health: The Victoria Best Practice Clinical Learning Environments Policy requires health networks to be accountable for the quality of the practice education experiences provided. A consideration is the provision of quality learning experiences to justify the payment for placement. In response Barwon Health developed an occupational therapy Practice Education Program that has led to quality practice education learning experiences and has provided opportunity to increase the number of placements.