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Connecting the dots through placements (By Sarah Monaghan)

By Sarah Monaghan

2nd Year Management Intern

Connecting the dots through placements

A key feature of the internship that interested me was the exposure to various healthcare organisations and departments through six-month placements. Having primarily worked in metropolitan hospitals as a clinician I was keen to take the opportunity to explore healthcare outside hospital wards. Over the last two years I have actively worked in a variety of healthcare organisations which has broadened and enhanced my understanding of the healthcare system and the interplay between departments and organisations. 

Metropolitan Hospitals

My initial two placements were at metropolitan hospitals which provided familiarity as I began the internship, however, I quickly realised that there was more to learn outside of the clinical environment. During my first month I was fortunate to spend time with different departments to understand their role in patient care, within the organisation and overall healthcare system. Through time in operational roles, including with afterhours coordinators, bed managers, operations mangers, administrative staff and in charge nurses I was encouraged to draw on my previous knowledge and build a more comprehensive understanding of patient pathways.

I also had the opportunity to work with key corporate departments including finance, health information management, people and culture, transformation and project management. These experiences highlighted the contribution of non-clinical areas to support patients to receive optimal care now and into the future and maintain business operations. After completing my first year, I felt that I had a good understanding of different hospital departments, where they intersected and their contribution to patient care. I was also consolidating my understanding of the influences, challenges and considerations for decision making in a hospital environment.

Regional Hospital

During my third placement in a regional healthcare organisation I was encouraged to refine the knowledge I had attained over the first year and recognise the similarities and differences of providing care in a regional setting. While the evidence-based clinical care was unchanged the key challenges and considerations were different and focused on maintaining self-sufficiency, which is the capability of an organisation to provide the care the community requires and avoid travel to another location further away. This concept underpinned strategic and operational decisions resulting in a healthcare organisation that provides services across the lifespan and supports patients to remain within, or return, to the region for care.

An additional challenge is providing access and timely care for patients that are dispersed across a large geographic area. This creates an opportunity to focus on digital solutions and service planning to enable care to be provided close to home where appropriate. Throughout this placement I was encouraged to identify and consider factors that may impact the provision of care in a regional setting and utilise this knowledge to understand decision making and apply a different perspective.

Department of Health

My final placement was at the Department of Health and provided exposure to a state government department and their role in the provision of healthcare. In previous placements I supported projects that involved implementing standards set by the department, and it has been interesting and valuable to see how these standards are initiated and developed at the state government level. Additionally, I have been able to observe the influences and drivers of decision making and the political aspects of healthcare. This was different to my hospital-based placements as it involved different organisational structures and processes but was essential in rounding out my placement experience by providing exposure to policy development and program monitoring at a state government level. Obtaining this knowledge and experience has encouraged me to consider multiple perspectives and further broadened my understanding of the Victorian healthcare system, from policy to operational execution

Reflection

The Victorian healthcare system is complex, vast and comprises of many organisations committed to providing the best possible care for patients and improving the health of Victorians. There are some organisations that I haven’t explored yet, such as primary care and public health, and I look forward to learning more about these organisations in the future. I hope to continue to adopt a holistic view of healthcare and further my knowledge of healthcare organisations, their similarities and differences through the experience that I have now gained to support patients and the community to receive the best possible care.

Disclaimer: Views are those of individual authors and not those of ACHSM or management intern’s employers.