Griffith University researchers will evaluate the training of allied health professionals in remote and rural Queensland.
Griffith University researchers will evaluate the training of allied health professionals in remote and rural Queensland.

New uni program will send allied health professionals out west

A QUEENSLAND university has pledged their support for allied health services in rural parts of the state with a new partnership aimed at training health professionals and supporting their needs.

A specialised team of Griffith University researchers have partnered with the Allied Health Professions’ Office of Queensland (AHPOQ) to evaluate the training of allied health professionals and support their work in remote and rural areas of Queensland.

The team, led by Griffith’s School of Allied Health Sciences Acting Head Professor Elizabeth Cardell, will assess trainee opportunities through the Allied Health Rural Generalist Pathway for 2020 to 2022.

The program will support allied health professionals in the following towns:

– Atherton

– Ayr

– Biloela

– Charleville

– Childers

– Chinchilla

– Clermont

– Cooktown

– Dalby

– Emerald

– Gayndah

– Ingham

– Kingaroy

– Longreach

– Moranbah

– Mount Isa

– Roma

– Thursday Island

– Warwick

– Weipa

The Pathway allows allied health trainees to undertake postgraduate education in rural generalist practice to increase the range of services provided in local communities.

There are currently 34 rural generalist trainees across eight allied health professions including dietitians, pharmacists and speech pathologists.

Professor Cardell said the evaluation of the Pathway would help create a larger and sustainable rural and remote allied health workforce.

“Working in rural and remote settings is exciting and diverse but has some challenges,” Professor Cardell said.

“Compared to many metropolitan positions, you get to work with a wider range of patients across the lifespan and therefore build skills across the entire range of practice areas in your profession.

“However, there are shortages in the rural and remote health workforce and access to multidisciplinary teams, as a professional and for consumers, is more limited.

“This new evidence will assist us, as educators, to understand how to prepare our Griffith allied health students for working in rural and remote communities.

“We are committed to helping these communities benefit from high-quality education gained at universities and high-quality health services.”

Other members of the Griffith team include Associate Professor Lauren Ball, Dr Christine Randall and Associate Professor Emily Callander, who have expertise in a range of clinical and research disciplines including speech pathology dietetics, rehabilitation counselling, health economics and more.

Professor Cardell said Griffith’s involvement demonstrated the University’s strong relationships with Queensland Health, which has funded the project through a service agreement providing over $300,000.

“We already have strong links through clinical research and practice education, and extensive experience in evaluating education and training outcomes,” she said.

“This new project strengthens the scope of our partnerships, particularly with AHPOQ, and positions us as leaders in evaluating training outcomes and impact from health service delivery initiatives.”

Associate Professor Ball said the evaluation would ensure patient care in rural communities was both high-quality and cost-effective.

“This partnership means we can make sure that we are spending money in the best way possible to get the right outcomes for Queenslanders no matter where they are,” she said.

Queensland Health’s Chief Allied Health Officer Liza-Jane McBride said the pathway acted as an incentive to attract early career allied health professionals to the bush and provided the support and training needed to retain them in their communities.

The Allied Health Rural Generalist Pathway is a key strategy for Queensland Health and has been in operation since 2014.

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