Better training needed to attract rural health workers

by L&D26 Oct 2016
Improved training pathways and promotion are key to convincing more nurses and allied health professionals to take up positions in rural locations, according to a new study.
The research was commissioned by Rural Health Workforce Australia (RHWA) in collaboration with Monash University Department of Rural Health, University of Newcastle Department of Rural Health, and the Centre for Remote Health in Alice Springs.
Among the key recommendations was the development of clear career pathways in rural and remote Australia. Better marketing and promotion of remote and rural practice was also advised, as was provision and support for the rural practice experiences of students and professionals in the early stages of their career.
The report made 11 recommendations based on the idea that more nurses and health professionals can be attracted to rural areas simply by raising awareness of non-urban practice. There is a strong need, the report adds, for focused and positive marketing of rural and remote opportunities during undergraduate training and early-career employment.
“Nursing and allied health professionals such as physiotherapists and psychologists are critical to meeting the health needs of rural and remote Australians,” said chair of RHWA Dr. Ross Maxwell.
“We believe this report is timely given the Australian government’s greater emphasis on the role of Australian-trained graduates in addressing mal-distribution of health workforce in rural Australia.
“One of the core building blocks of a better rural workforce pipeline is the new Rural Health Multidisciplinary Training Program, with a renewed focus on nursing and allied health students.”
The study surveyed 36 students and 34 recent nursing and allied health graduates from Adelaide, Darwin, Melbourne and Newcastle.
A further recommendation was that urban universities should increase their intake of health students from rural areas, as rural origin is an important factor in determining if a young health worker will undertake rural practice.