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Future-proof and sustainable health professionals for the 21st century: Applying transversal competencies to workforce development and learning pedagogy

conference contribution
posted on 2023-05-24, 17:52 authored by Sarah Low, Kerryn Butler-HendersonKerryn Butler-Henderson, Rose NashRose Nash

Background: Health professionals today are faced with constant change driven by health reform, globalisation and technology (Butler-Henderson, 2017). Workforce education and training is a major enabler of resilience and sustainability through these challenging times and into the future (Redecker, 2011). Academia and employers are increasingly focussed on learning content that can equip health professionals with sustainable competencies to support their ability to effectively handle unfamiliar situations and collaborate (CeBrian and Junyent, 2015). In 2014, a study across the Asia-Pacific region, including Australia by the Asia-Pacific Education Research Institutes Network (ERI-Net), defined the skillsets that enabled students to manage change and respond appropriately to challenges as transversal competencies (Care and Luo, 2016). The domains under transversal competencies included critical and innovative thinking, interpersonal, intrapersonal and global citizenship. The study found that transversal competencies, although “integral to 21st century work and life” were inconsistently implemented in school curricula and further work on educating teachers and developing learning pedagogy was required (Care and Luo, 2016). Informed by this work, my PhD research focuses around examining the application of transversal competencies by health professionals to manage themselves and others in a changing work environment.

Method: Literature reviews were conducted on transversal competencies and best practice learning pedagogy to inform the development of a professional development course on transversal competencies specifically designed for health professionals in Australia. The course was delivered to health professionals with a variety of career backgrounds in terms of length and role types. Assessment items were designed so participants could apply the learning content to their own professional experiences through active learning.

Results: Preliminary findings indicated that the course content and the pedagogy used enabled the participants to develop transversal competencies and apply them to actual professional practice scenarios. There was 100% agreement amongst course participants that transversal competencies were critical to managing themselves and others in unfamiliar environments and are required as part of their ongoing professional development.

Significance: This research and presentation addresses the 2018 SHAPE conference theme of facing the future and addressing the sub-themes of education for the Asia Pacific and workforce requirements and readiness. It proposes a set of competencies and a learning framework to support health professionals confidently approach challenging workplace situations in the 21st century. Findings from the research will inform the development of a leadership model for health professionals, learning pedagogy and competencies for sustainable health professional workforce development in Australia.


Publication title

SHAPE Symposium Program 2018





Place of publication

Brisbane, QLD

Event title

SHAPE Symposium 2018: Facing the future: energising and shaping healthcare

Event Venue

Griffith University

Date of Event (Start Date)


Date of Event (End Date)


Repository Status

  • Restricted

Socio-economic Objectives

Pedagogy; Health policy evaluation; Expanding knowledge in education

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