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The changing demographics of the orthotist/prosthetist workforce in Australia: 2007, 2012 and 2019

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journal contribution
posted on 20.04.2021, 22:41 by Emily Ridgewell, Leigh Clarke, Sarah Anderson, Michael Dillon
Background: Previous Australian workforce analyses revealed a small orthotist/prosthetist workforce with a low number of practitioners per 100,000 Australians. In recent years, initiatives were implemented to increase relative workforce size, including a government-led change in immigration policy to facilitate entry of experienced internationally trained orthotist/prosthetists into the Australian workforce. Given these changes, this project aimed to compare demographics of the orthotist/prosthetist workforce in Australia and each state/territory between 2007, 2012 and 2019. Methods: This quasi-experiment analysed data from the Australian Orthotic Prosthetic Association (AOPA) database of certified orthotist/prosthetists, to compare changes in the absolute number of practitioners and the number of practitioners per 100,000 population, as well as practitioner age, gender and service location (i.e., metropolitan, regional/remote) across three time points, with a breakdown by each Australian state and territory. Results: Between 2007 and 2019, the number of orthotist/prosthetists per 100,000 population increased 90%. Average age reduced significantly between 2007 (41.5 years) and 2019 (35 years) (p = 0.001). While the proportion of female practitioners increased significantly between 2007 (30%) and 2019 (49%), and between 2012 (38%) and 2019 (49%) (p < 0.05); only 22% of the female workforce is over 40 years of age. The proportion of practitioners servicing a regional/remote location did not change over time (range 13–14%). Conclusions: Between 2007 and 2019, the national orthotist/prosthetist workforce increased at a rate that exceeded Australia’s population growth, became younger, and more female. However, the number of practitioners per 100,000 population remains below international recommendations; particularly in states outside of Victoria and Tasmania, and in regional/remote areas. In addition, low numbers of mid-late career female practitioners suggest challenges to retention of this particular cohort. These data can help inform workforce initiatives to retain a younger and more female workforce, and improve access to orthotic/prosthetic services.

History

Publication Date

17/03/2021

Journal

Human Resources for Health

Volume

19

Issue

1

Article Number

34

Pagination

10p.

Publisher

BioMed Central

ISSN

1478-4491

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The Author reserves all moral rights over the deposited text and must be credited if any re-use occurs. Documents deposited in OPAL are the Open Access versions of outputs published elsewhere. Changes resulting from the publishing process may therefore not be reflected in this document. The final published version may be obtained via the publisher’s DOI. Please note that additional copyright and access restrictions may apply to the published version.

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