Developing and evaluating a professional development plan pilot for doctors in unaccredited posts: A pilot study
In Australia, doctors from their third-year post graduation who are not on specialist training pathways frequently work in unaccredited posts with varying amounts of education and support. In 2019, the New South Wales Ministry of Health (NSW Health) and the Health Education and Training Institute (HETI) agreed on a pilot process for these doctors to develop a professional development plan (PDP). The pilot aimed to implement the process and evaluate its feasibility and acceptability.
The process was piloted at four sites in 2021. The evaluation methodology was informed by the non-adoption, abandonment and challenges to scale-up, spread and sustainability (NASSS) framework with data derived from site meetings, interviews with doctors in unaccredited positions and PDP supervisors, and analysis of PDPs and time required.
A total of 42 doctors undertook the PDP process, of whom 25 were interviewed. Of the 28 supervisors recruited, 13 were interviewed. Three sites reported successful implementation, with most doctors having a PDP in progress. Despite challenges associated with the diversity of the workforce and workplaces, all sites were supportive of the process being rolled out with appropriate resourcing.
The research findings indicated that embedding a PDP process more widely across the state will be complex due to the diversity of the workforce and clinical workplaces.
The PDP process, while acceptable and feasible, needs to adapt to local circumstances, including the workforce, supervisory capacity and experience, individual doctor needs and available resources.
The evaluation supports the need for a supported PDP process for doctors in unaccredited positions.
The findings may not be transferable to all NSW Health facilities or to other states or territories. Doctors who consented to be interviewed were more likely to be positive about the process than those who did not. The study did not include a cost evaluation or explore cost-effectiveness due to the short time frame.