The Department of Health funded the Pre-Qualification Employment program in 2021, allowing area mental health services to employ Nursing, Allied Health, and medical undergraduates to work part-time in mental health settings while completing their studies.
The Department of Health partnered with the Centre for Mental Health Nursing (CentreMHN) and the Centre for Mental Health Learning
(CMHL) to support the program. We provided statewide coordination functions with program leads across participating services. CMHL coordinated meetings with key stakeholders and coordinated design and service delivery with the CentreMHN. The program of support consisted of monthly meetings and the establishment of an online sharing space (via Basecamp) for all project coordinators within the participating services. These spaces facilitated:
- sharing of recruitment challenges and processes
- service updates
- sharing of key recruitment documents via the online platform, and messaging
- clarifying the function, and session plans for reflective sessions for students
- DH updates, sometimes with DH rep attendance, other times an update provided to and delivered by CMHL
CentreMHN and CMHL also collaborated with the program leads to design and deliver discipline-specific reflective practice sessions, available to all pre-qualification program participants. The feedback from students regarding the reflective sessions was overwhelmingly positive with survey results showing respondents almost exclusively strongly agreeing or agreeing with each of the following evaluation statements:
- The modes of delivery supported my learning
- This session gave me an opportunity to connect and learn with my peers
- This reflective practice session has increased my confidence in working in multidisciplinary teams
- At the end of the session, I was able to outline the benefits of discipline-specific reflective practice
The second and third reflective practice sessions had a portion devoted to having a consumer worker answer questions that had been submitted by the students anonymously. This provided a space for them to ask questions about lived experience work that they may not have felt comfortable asking in the workplace.
The services received large numbers of applications for placements across most disciplines. Working environments and conditions due to the ongoing pandemic continued to provide challenges regarding where to place students and getting ‘buy-in’ from managers. The meetings that CMHL facilitated provided a space for the coordinators of the program to problem-solve challenges, share resources and contribute to the design of reflective practice sessions. Both the discipline-specific and mixed discipline reflective sessions provided valuable spaces for the employees to talk about their experiences, and to be able to ask questions about peer work.
CMHL is again working with CentreMHN to provide the same components of support for the 2022 pre-qualification program.
Senior Lead / Acting Director