Why health training shouldn't return to 'normal' in 2021

By Ed Johnson, Umbo
Thursday, 11 February, 2021

Why health training shouldn't return to 'normal' in 2021

January kicks off the planning period for many allied health professionals as they look at the training available and required for the year ahead, so they can remain relevant and valuable to their clients.

Often when we think of continuing professional development (CPD), we think of conferences, workshops and seminars, but in 2021 we may have to think more broadly about how we can keep up to speed with the latest developments in clinical research and practice.

In 2020 we’ve seen Australians flock to telepractice solutions during the pandemic, highlighting the importance of digital communications technologies for clients and patients who cannot easily travel to a clinic or where a clinician is unable to travel to them. This year has also highlighted that effective telepractice isn’t simply a matter of ‘business as usual plus videoconferencing’. There are specific skills required to deliver telepractice effectively.

Umbo CCO and speech pathologist Ed Johnson — on a mission to provide quality allied health services to those in rural and remote settings.

As allied health professionals start to consider professional development opportunities for 2021, it will be critical to recognise our limited access to more traditional CPD options, as well as the need to develop skills in new and emerging service delivery models. With that in mind, here are a few ideas about how to spend CPD time in the coming 12 months.

1. Upskilling for effective telepractice delivery

This is high on many people’s lists — getting confident and competent in online service delivery is going to be crucial for all clinicians in the future. The pandemic has accelerated the shift to telepractice, and this transition will likely stay for the long term — particularly for people in rural and remote locations, and families who have difficulty travelling to appointments or are experiencing excessive wait times for in-person services. We’ll need to know how to support these people.

It is important to learn from experts in this field who leverage the latest research in digital service delivery models. Many people are learning based on trends, or what they think ‘feels’ right, but telepractice is just like any other service delivery model and must be based in evidence, not popular opinion. Have a look at the Digital Health CRC or Umbo for more ideas.

2. Learning person-centred approaches based on real case studies

While many of us feel that we take a person-centred approach to therapy, clinicians often find themselves asking the same set of questions to each client and delivering a generic service based on the results and their preferences.

Truly person-centred approaches involve prioritising and cultivating relationships, generating a genuine emotional response from the person and their supporters so that they’re engaged and motivated to work on goals relevant to them, and focusing on getting the person and their supporters to develop their own goals to make meaningful change in their individual context.

3. Thinking outside the box

This year we probably won’t be able to gather with colleagues by the hundreds at conferences, attend lecture halls to hear inspiring keynote speeches, or travel across the globe to a workshop by our favourite paediatric oncological-psycho-neuro-immunologist. We’ll have to be a bit more creative.

Thinking you don’t understand your community as well as you might? Instead of reading a textbook, book a few days to spend learning from community members, shadow a colleague or learn from an elder, or interview some parents in your neighbourhood. Thinking you need to review your knowledge of assistive technology prescription? Attend a webinar, spend a day visiting some suppliers, or arrange a journal club with your colleagues.

We’ll have to be creative this year, but keep at it, and look at it as an opportunity to use your creative clinician brain to come up with some fun and quirky ways to continue to bring your best self to all of your clinical work. We’ve come a long way in 2020, but we’ve proven to ourselves and our communities that we are adaptive and resilient, and will continue to learn.

Top image credit: ©stock.adobe.com/au/Andrei

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