Common themes in core competencies suppport interprofessional working in rehabilitation services

Recently published research confirms that there are common themes in the core competencies of different rehabilitation professions, and that these may be used to support interprofessional collaboration for rehabilitation services.

Rehabilitation services are essential interventions designed to optimise functioning and reduce disability in individuals with health conditions. Among others, eight core professions that offer rehabilitation services: audiology, occupational therapy, physical and rehabilitation medicine, physiotherapy, psychology, prosthetics and orthotics, rehabilitation nursing, and speech-language pathology, all encouraged to collaborate on interprofessional teams to optimise patient/client-centered care. Each profession has developed its own international or national document to describe entry-level competencies. However, it was not previously evident in the literature whether rehabilitation professions share the same core competencies.

Research into the topic was performed by Dr Nicole Beamish, Dr Cheryl Footer, Rachael Lowe and Dr Shala Cunningham on behalf of ReLAB-HS and published recently in the Journal of Interprofessional Care. The thematic analysis explored international standards for the eight rehabilitation professions to identify commonalities and differences in entry-level professionals’ required core competencies. Four common themes were identified across all professions:

  • Evidence-based clinical practice knowledge and skills
  • Culturally competent communication and collaboration
  • Professional reasoning and behaviors
  • Interprofessional collaboration

To support and develop health systems that can respond to the growing global need for rehabilitation services, an understanding of commonalities between the rehabilitation professions is vital. This research highlighted those commonalities and may be used to facilitate interprofessional collaboration and the creation of meaningful shared resources to advance rehabilitation globally. Future initiatives will be able to develop international rehabilitation education and resources to support regulation, education, and training initiatives which can positively impact the rehabilitation workforce capacity of low and low-middle-income countries where resources are scarce. The research article is available open access for further reading.

This work is supported by the USAID funded Learning Acting Building for Rehabilitation in Health Systems (ReLAB-HS) project and is not possible without the generous and committed contribution of the Leahy War Victims fund.

ReLAB-HS is made possible by the generous support of the American people through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and is implemented under cooperative agreement number 7200AA20CA00033. The consortium is managed by prime recipient, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.