Interprofessional collaborative education and practice in rural oral health clinical placement – ADOHTA 2021

Interprofessional collaborative education and practice in rural oral health clinical placement

Dr Jennifer Gray, Ms Kyla Burman

1University Of Adelaide, Australia

Background: Interprofessional collaborative education and practice is a key contributor towards producing competent, practice-ready graduates for an effective future health workforce (ADC/DCNZ, 2021).  Interprofessional education works to address the changing needs of the community while enhancing graduate preparedness for new and emerging roles (Curtin University, 2011).

Aim:  To pilot an inter-institutional and interprofessional program for oral health students who are undertaking rural rotation.

Methodology & Results:  The Bachelor of Oral Health (BOH) program is designed to incorporate interprofessional education progressing across three years of the program. A pilot inter-institutional program was implemented across 2019-2020.  The University of Adelaide (UofA) combined with the University of South Australia (USA) during rural clinical placements for undergraduate BOH and Allied Health students in Whyalla, South Australia.  The program incorporated face-to-face and online learning with a focus on rural interprofessional practice with insight to: cultural competency; compassion fatigue and self-care; management of difficult client conversations, and; referral pathways. Case-based learning was used to explore the way that health professionals could collaboratively contribute to an effective holistic patient-centred approach. As an adjunct, there was a broader range of collaborations, including shared accommodation and campus facilities, and inter-university and wider community events.  BOH students also co-created and delivered a continuing professional development session for the paediatric department at Whyalla Hospital, to further oral health literacy and to highlight referral pathways to public and private dental care settings.

Conclusion: Collaborative, interprofessional education enables health students and graduates to develop and maintain professional knowledge, skills and attitude necessary to provide effective health care within and across education and health service settings.  It strengthens partnerships and offers improved job satisfaction and career outcomes, leading to improved retention and recruitment.  Most importantly, it enables safe, high-quality, patient-centred health care to be provided for improved health outcomes (Curtin University, 2011).



Dr Jennifer Gray is Program Coordinator at the University of Adelaide. She has contributed to bodies such as ADOHTA, the Oral Health Advisory Committee, COHA and the Australian Dental Council. Jenny teaches in the areas of Clinical Practice, health promotion and population health. Her research interests include: child oral health, health promotion and educational research.

Kyla is an Associate Lecturer at the University of Adelaide. She teaches into under-graduate and post-graduate programs at the Adelaide Dental School in a variety of simulation and clinical settings across metropolitan and rural South Australia. She has a special interest in the phenomena of co-creation which will be the focus of her Master of Clinical Education by Research. Kyla also continues her role as an Oral Health Therapist (extended-scope) in private practice. Other professional appointments have included contribution to College of Oral Health Academics and Dental Hygienists’ Association of Australia.