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Re-envisaging education for health professionals

Photo of the project team
From left to right: Karina Donaldson, Todd Stretton, Dr Denise Atkins, Associate Professor Peter Larmer, Dr Susan Shaw

AUT researchers have partnered with colleagues from the Ministry of Health and the Tertiary Education Commission to re-envisage the way health professionals are educated.

The project will see AUT experts from the Faculty of Health and Environmental Sciences liaise with colleagues from the Ministry of Health and the Tertiary Education Commission to identify current challenges and plan an iterative process of review and development.

The aim is to redesign the education of health professionals, across a range of disciplines, to enhance flexibility for students and ensure responsivity to community and workforce needs. This will include structural elements and an emphasis on what is taught and how.

Fundamental changes to the content of health professional degrees and the process of teaching them are required to ensure graduates are well equipped to serve the community of Aotearoa New Zealand.  An emphasis on Mātauranga Māori and lived experience will be key features of this project.

The structure of these degree programmes will focus on embedding competencies for practice, which are mandated by regulators of the health professions concerned, into the final year of study. This ‘capstone’ model will incorporate the bulk of practical learning in clinical settings.

"The capstone year will make it easier for professionals to widen their scope of practice, increasing skill-sets available within communities,” says research leader Dr Susan Shaw of AUT.

The project will involve consultation with a range of groups and stakeholders including communities (Māori and lived experience), the health professional sector (regulators, health and disability service providers, the professions), educators and key government agencies (TEC and MoH).

The project comes in the wake of the Health and Disability System Review (The Simpson Report, 2020) which highlighted the need to address issues with service delivery, workforce development and educational design and provision.

AUT’s Faculty of Health and Environmental Sciences delivers the widest range of study programmes for health professionals in the country. Eleven of these programmes prepare students for registration under the Health Practitioners Competency Act*.

This $500,000 programme is funded under AUT’s Health Futures, a $20 million research initiative to increase AUT’s contribution to health and New Zealand, working with district health boards (DHBs), entrepreneurs, Māori healthcare providers, the Ministry of Health, and private hospitals.

*Programmes requiring registration under the Health Practitioners Competency Act: midwifery, oral health, physiotherapy, occupational health, medical laboratory science, psychology, psychotherapy, podiatry, anaesthetic technology, nursing and paramedicine.

AUT researchers

The project involves the following researchers from the Faculty of Health and Environmental Sciences:

  • Dr Susan Shaw
  • Associate Professor Peter Larmer
  • Dr Denise Atkins
  • Todd Stretton
  • Karina Donaldson

External collaborators

  • Ministry of Health
  • Tertiary Education Commission