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Original Research

Work-integrated learning (WIL) supervisors and non-supervisors of allied health professional students

Submitted: 1 November 2011
Revised: 3 October 2012
Accepted: 19 December 2012
Published: 14 February 2013

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Author(s) : Smedts AM, Campbell N, Sweet L.

Anna SmedtsNarelle CampbellLinda Sweet

Citation: Smedts AM, Campbell N, Sweet L.  Work-integrated learning (WIL) supervisors and non-supervisors of allied health professional students. Rural and Remote Health (Internet) 2013; 13: 1993. Available: (Accessed 22 October 2017)


Introduction:  This study sought to characterise the allied health professional (AHP) workforce of the Northern Territory (NT), Australia, in order to understand the influence of student supervision on workload, job satisfaction, and recruitment and retention.
Methods:  The national Rural Allied Health Workforce Study survey was adapted for the NT context and distributed through local AHP networks. Valid responses (n=179) representing 16 professions were collated and categorised into ‘supervisor’ and ‘non-supervisor’ groups for further analysis.
Results:  The NT AHP workforce is predominantly female, non-Indigenous, raised in an urban environment, trained outside the NT, now concentrated in the capital city, and principally engaged in individual patient care. Allied health professionals cited income and type of work or clientele as the most frequent factors for attraction to their current positions. While 62% provided student supervision, only half reported having training in mentoring or supervision. Supervising students accounted for an estimated 9% of workload. Almost 30% of existing supervisors and 33% of non-supervising survey respondents expressed an interest in greater supervisory responsibilities. Despite indicating high satisfaction with their current positions, 67% of respondents reported an intention to leave their jobs in less than 5 years. Student supervision was not linked to perceived job satisfaction; however, this study found that professionals who were engaged in student supervision were significantly more likely to report intention to stay in their current jobs (>5 years; p<0.05).
Conclusion:  The findings are important for supporting ongoing work-integrated learning opportunities for students in a remote context, and highlight the need for efforts to be focused on the training and retention of AHPs as student supervisors.

Key words: allied health, Australia, clinical education, clinical educator, Northern Territory, rural student, supervision, supervisor, work-integrated learning, workforce development.

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