Too few exercise physiologists in Australian hospitals

Less than 5% of Australian Accredited Exercise Physiologists (AEPs) are employed in Australian hospitals, and industry body Exercise & Sport Science Australia (ESSA) has called on the hospital sector to increase engagement with AEPs.

Exercise physiologist workforce in hospitalsESSA released its Exercise Physiology Health Service & Workforce Planning Document 2014 in December, and following its release, ESSA is calling for health promotion initiatives to prevent patients from becoming ill, and to have AEPs integrated into hospital setting.

ESSA Industry Development Officer Katie Williams said that clinical exercise interventions delivered by AEPs were proven to accelerate patient recovery and minimise the risk of complications both before and after hospital discharge. “This lessens the strain on the medical and nursing workforce and also minimises demand on resources over the long-term as the average length of stay within hospitals can be reduced,” Ms Williams said.

“Having AEPs teach patients how to manage their condition also increases patients’ ability to maintain their health and independence following hospital discharge and reduces the prevalence of avoidable hospitalisations in the future.”

Considering Australia is on track to have a shortage of 109,000 nurses by the year 2025, perhaps the role of the AEP could become more important.

Ms Williams also said introducing larger numbers of AEPs within Australian hospitals would play a key role in reducing the financial and community impact of avoidable hospitalisations and readmissions.

“The Australian healthcare system is under substantial pressure, with too much focus being placed on treatment rather than prevention, and not enough funding being directed towards minimising readmissions,” Ms Williams said.

“If the system is going to meet the needs of our rising population’s healthcare demands over the coming years, it will need to undergo an urgent and significant transformation.”

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