Where do they go? Methodology and lessons from collaborative allied health graduate tracking research

Dr Susan Waller1, Associate Professor Tony Smith2, Dr Alison Beauchamp1, Dr Keith Sutton1

1Monash University, Newborough, Australia, 2University of Newcastle, Newcastle, Australia



Despite the shortage of allied health professionals in rural and regions of Australia, there is limited understanding and evidence about rural practice intentions and outcomes for allied health students and graduates. Collaborative research is underway across two universities in two Australian States through the Nursing and Allied Health Graduate Outcomes Tracking (NAHGOT) Study. The overall aim is to build evidence about the factors that influence decision-making about where allied health practitioners end up working. This paper describes the research design and discusses insights into the complexity of collaborative studies of graduate outcomes.


This longitudinal study will collect and deterministically link data from:

  • existing University data about student characteristics and clinical placement experiences;
  • annual surveys of both first year and final year allied health students at both universities;
  • follow-up graduate surveys up to 10 years; and
  • Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA) registration data.


Learnings from addressing challenges encountered to date will be outlined, specifically: i) limitations of routinely collected data; ii) data linkage across multiple sources; iii) the inherent shortcomings of online surveying.

Significance of the findings for Allied Health:

A longitudinal study that tracks the background, intentions, experience and outcomes for allied health graduates can inform curriculum improvement for work readiness and workforce planning particularly in non-metropolitan regions.

This presentation provides insights and potential strategies for moving forward, including the potential for up-scaling to involve other universities.


Susan is a Senior Lecturer in the Monash University Department of Rural Health. In her role, she is responsible for student placement support in the region and also facilitates interprofessional simulated student clinics. Prior to working at Monash, Susan was the Senior Physiotherapist at the Cerebral Palsy League. Susan is a graduate of the University of Queensland where she did her undergraduate degree in Physiotherapy, Masters in Paediatric Physiotherapy and her PhD in Interprofessional Education. Susan teaches on the Masters of Advanced Healthcare Practice and her research interest are in clinical education, collaboration in health and allied health workforce.