Gaps in work readiness of graduate health professionals and impact on early practice: Possibilities for future interprofessional learning

Margaret Merga



 Introduction: It is increasingly imperative to retain new graduates in order to meet the growing health workforce needs of Australia’s ageing population. Concurrently, there is a need to prepare graduates to work effectively in interprofessional teams by providing interprofessional educational opportunities at tertiary level, although which skills, knowledge and competencies should be delivered in an interprofessional context is a point of contention. Limited attention has been given to the identification of cross-professional gaps in entry-level work readiness of graduate health professionals that could subsequently be addressed to some extent by interprofessional education. 

Methods: Qualitative responses were collected from 88 Department of Health Western Australia employees using a survey tool with open fields. Respondents were recent graduates across a range of health professions. Responses were analysed to identify significant self-reported gaps in graduate work readiness and their impact. 

Results: Gaps in entry-level work readiness across multiple professions were identified. These included caseload and time management, clinical administration skills, employability, lack of experience with high-risk patients and emergencies, insufficient practicum to transform theory into practical knowledge, conflict management, and stress management and reality shock. 

Conclusion: The gaps identified in current graduate work readiness, across a range of health professions, should inform the focus of future interprofessional training. As such, this paper could play a role in ensuring graduates are work ready, and also provide ideas for building the interprofessional skills of the future workforce.

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