Early Links Supporting Inclusion

Supporting clinical staff

Professional Support Program
Annette Clinical Services Training Coordinator

By Annette Collins

Clinical Services Training Coordinator


I have been fortunate to work at Early Links for many years alongside an experienced and enthusiastic team. As a team, we have a wealth and variety of information and skills – whether that is years in the field, lived experience, different skills and interests, different professional backgrounds, or higher degrees. As the Early Links team has grown, we have worked hard to find ways to share these skills and experiences with new team members.

It started with an idea…

When you start working in this field, there is so much to take in. Everyone has much to learn in a new organisation, whether you are a recent graduate or an experienced staff member, and we don’t want anyone struggling. In 2021 we decided to trial the New Grad Program, a weekly program to support new graduates joining Early Links.

Every Thursday, we met for two hours and viewed a presentation on a different topic. Topics included how to work in the field, develop clinical skills, learn where (or who) to go to for more information and look at the latest research on the topics. Staff across the organisation with the knowledge and skills to share were called in to present. Throughout 2021 we covered 30 different topics in the PSP.

And then it grew!

Part way through the year, we realised that calling the group the New Grad Program was misleading – we were providing this opportunity for any new or experienced staff member who needed that support or knowledge. One of our recent graduates came up with an alternative – the Professional Support Program, or PSP for short – and we adopted this. The feedback from the group showed that the program was greatly beneficial in developing skills and helping new graduates feel welcomed and supported.

In 2022 we varied the PSP structure to be in-person and online – with the added benefit of recording the sessions for those who couldn’t attend. The recordings may not be the best cinema experience, but the information and discussions that arise during the sessions are there to help our staff. This is all on top of regular supervision sessions with their supervisors, team professional development meetings and opportunities for external professional development.

An award winning program

It seems that the success of our PSP program has not gone unnoticed either. We were recently informed that Early Links has been awarded the Work Integrated Learning Hall of Fame Award by the University of Newcastle for this program! The award recognises an organisation’s contribution to the professional preparation of students, and we’re thrilled to be celebrated for the support we offer our staff.

Where to next?

Supporting our staff (especially new staff) is important to us. We are always trying to figure out how best to upskill and support new staff in their roles. Our Professional Support Program is likely to evolve and improve. Watch this space!

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