Turning Tides, Navigating the Opportunities!

July 6, 2023

Tom Collins

Tom Collins is a Director at MedApps as well as a healthcare nerd and marathon candidate

At the request of some close and trusted customers, the Med App team attended the 2023 ANZAHPE Conference: ‘Turning Tides, Navigating the Opportunities’!

The Australian and New Zealand Association for Health Professional Educators (ANZAHPE) held its annual conference in 2023 on the sunny Gold Coast. The conference was held from June 26-29, and the theme was “Turning Tides, Navigating the Opportunities.” For those of us from the south, the weather in Queensland didn’t disappoint. 

How good are Queensland Winters?

The conference program was jam packed and featured a variety of presentations, workshops and poster discussions on a range of topics related to the education, support and wellbeing of healthcare professionals.

At Med App our mission is to Help every health professional feel capable, confident and efficient in their work.  

Interesting Presentations EPAs and WBAs a plenty!

One of the key topics at the conference was the use of EPAs (Entrustable Professional Activities) and WBAs (Workplace Based Assessments) in health professional education. EPAs were a way of defining the essential skills and knowledge that health professionals needed to be competent in their practice. WBAs were a way of assessing whether students had achieved these skills and knowledge.

There were a number of presentations on the use of EPAs and WBAs at the conference. These presentations discussed the benefits and challenges of using these assessment tools, as well as how they had been used to improve the quality of clinician education.

Two interesting points from this were 

  1. “Just get more experience”. The specificity of feedback given, ie. was the free text feedback specific and clear enough to allow the clinician to understand, absorb and plan for improvements that they could implement (non-specific feedback examples below); and, 
  2. Clinical settings are busier than ever. Strategies, tactics, leadership and technology is needed to enable the seamless integration of clinical practice and learning. There was a lot of discussion around moving education closer to the patient. However one of the big challenges is around available time to complete EPA or WBA assessments, particularly with the volume of work required for assessing clinicians. Paper based, manual processes and an inability to track progress were flagged as material issues soaking up valuable clinical or education time.  

Another key topic at the conference was the wellbeing and support of health professionals from students through to senior leadership. There was a healthy dose of topics on student wellbeing. Such as stress management, resilience, and mental health. 

IMGs – Transition from International Study to Australian Practice

An excellent presentation from Dr Kayal Patel on International Medical Graduates (IMGs) hammered home the importance of supporting the individuals that are propping up the Australian Healthcare System. 

Some of stats that highlight the impact IMGs can have included:

  • It is estimated that 32.2% of the Australian Medical workforce is comprised of IMGs
  • At Launceston General Hospital (LGH): 61% of Medical Officers in 2021 were IMGS
  • Since 2020 more than 50% ofGPs are IMGS

The transitions from international study to practice in Australia is poorly understood. With many believing these transitions are linear, where in reality they are complex and multidimensional. There seems to be an under-recognition of the impact of the transitions experienced by IMGs, even by those heavily invested in IMG education.

One graphic in particular hit home for me – IMGs are individuals from broad diverse backgrounds, often without their normal support networks and navigating a complex system – a necessary reminder for all of us! 

There were also some excellent organisational initiatives focusing on orientation, environmental and pastoral support. As well as a continuing focus on ‘educating faculty’ to ensure they are aware of the challenges and are able to identify biases to create the best experience for IMGs and local staff alike. 

The ANZAHPE conference was a great opportunity for healthcare professional educators to learn about the latest research and practices in the field. It was also a great opportunity to meet some new friends and colleagues.

Some Takeaways from the sessions we attended

Here are some of the key takeaways from the conference:

  • EPAs and WBAs have been a valuable tool for assessing the competence of health professionals and are only going to grow in prevalence. Technology, reporting and support will be critical in addressing ‘efficiency gaps’ in the real-world use of these tools.
  • There were a number of challenges associated with using EPAs and WBAs. These included a need for assessment consistency and to ensure they were properly aligned with the learning goals of the program.
  • Multimodal methods of communication (passive and proactive modes; online and face to face) and engaging with training candidates was critical.
  • Organisational, team and individual layers of support are needed to give clinicians the best opportunity to perform at the top of their skill level. 

Thanks to the ANZAHPE team and all of the speakers for putting on such a great show. If you are interested in learning more about the conference, you can visit the ANZAHPE website.

Reach out to the Med App team here for more information to learn more about our EPA, WBA and portfolio work.


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