Brought to you by Open Colleges

Allied health skills workshops: a great way for students to get connected

by Pete

Allied health students from Open Colleges were excited to attend a health skills workshop at the NSW Royal North Shore Hospital, allowing them to meet fellow students, have some fun and get great hands-on experience.

Doing an online course means that you study alone, right? Not in every case! There are so many face-to-face workshops held by Open Colleges where students in various states can get together to meet their trainers, industry experts and fellow students to gain real, practical skills!

Course coordinator Matt Rockell said: “It’s really important for us to get into the environment where a lot of our students are going to be working because it gives them more confidence.”

Matt has experience in education, sports science and allied health and he works with students to ensure they get the experience they need, that they get the opportunity to meet other students and that they feel confident in asking for support when they return home.

The special one-day health skills workshop covered a range of practical skills and was perfect way for students new to the health industry to gain professional competencies in a comfortable low-pressure environment. It was also great for students who had some background or skills in the area.

Want to watch the video of the Allied Health Skills Workshop? Click here!

Student Natalie Graham is specialising in occupational therapy assistance and thought meeting other students was a bonus and provided her with extra learning opportunities.

“Practical exposure for lifts in an equal environment was great. Listening to other students’ questions has widened my point of view,” Natalie said. “It felt great to discover other students had some of the same difficulties (that I had). Now I don’t feel so alone.”


Demand for skilled allied health assistants is on the rise. Allied Health Providers Australia estimates that 120,000 allied health professionals provide 200 million health services in Australia each year.

The HLT42512 Certificate IV in Allied Health Assistance is a great way to step into the allied health sector. Students can choose from several options for specialisation such as podiatry, speech pathology, nutrition, and occupational therapy. The course, most of which is conducted online (so that students can study where and when it suits them) includes structured workplace learning so that students can gain practical skills in a real working environment.

These hands-on workshops were non-compulsory bonus activities designed to allow students to connect with each other and get a sense of some of the skills and competencies they may be using in a future career in allied health.

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The event was held at The Royal North Shore Hospital

Full-time trainer and assessor Phil Casey presented the skills workshop that focused on manual handling and helping clients or patients move. The idea was presented to assist all students to gain skills through a progressive series of activities that would be beneficial in the future.

“We had the students doing single lifts using a gait belt, which assists them in lifting a patient from a seated position, from a bed or chair, and transferring them into another chair,” Phil Casey said.

“The levels of experience were very varied: there were some people that had little to no experience, there were some people that were using it as a stepping-stone, and there were a few people that had had some experience either working doing manual handling or as a receptionist within GP practices or hospitals.”

No matter your level of skill or experience in the industry (if any), the attending students had a valuable learning experience which gave them added enthusiasm for their online studies.

Daniel Oliver, an allied health assistance student specialising in physiotherapy, is new to the allied health industry. He said: “I have been interested in health and fitness for about two years, looking for a career change, and physio seemed a good job where I work practically with people.”

Daniel hopes to study physiotherapy one day and to eventually specialise in sports physio or musculoskeletal physio.

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Demonstrating the correct manual lifting technique – a skill often needed in careers in allied health assistance

Trainer and assessor Phil Casey said the Certificate IV in Allied Health Assistance is often used as a pathway to further study or to gain qualifications for existing employment, potentially allowing students to take one of several possible career paths.

Another student, Mario B. currently works as a patient care assistant at a private hospital and is enrolled in the Certificate IV. Mario hopes to work towards a more senior position such as an Assistant in Nursing (AIN).

“I need qualifications to move up or get a better job,” he says. “I’d like to work in a more specialised area of health and possibly become a community educator or instructor.”

Mario thought the skills workshop was beneficial because he was able to see in person what he had been reading in the course material and having direct access to his trainer was helpful for answering questions.

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Demonstrating a manual lift technique

“Phil used excellent learning material and is a good communicator. He answered my questions beyond the topics talked about today – it was great!”

The workshop allowed plenty of time to cover some of the skills that are most important when students undertake a work placement, which is a compulsory part of their course.

“We focus on the things that students tell us are the things that make them most nervous about starting their work placement,” Mr Rockell said.

Practical skills workshops are just one way students can get the most from their online study. Phil said the workshop was a great success and the students learned to practise new skills and they really enjoyed themselves as well.

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Trainer and assessor Phil Casey talks to the students about work in the allied health assistance industry

“It was a great day. It was very rewarding and the feedback from the students was great,” he said.

Another student who enjoyed the workshops was Panayiotis Christopoulus. The enthusiastic learner enjoyed the workshop so much that he said he would like to attend more in the future.

“It was good to meet other students from Open Colleges and it was beneficial for my study. I think you should do it more frequently!”

Need more information?

Allied health courses are delivered through a combination of online learning and a work placement. If you’d like more information about entering a rewarding career in allied health, you can:

Images thanks to Monash University Flickr stream

1 Response

  1. Chris Jackson, CMA says:

    Wow, what a cool workshop! Looks fun and educational 🙂

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