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Aust J Rural Health. 2018 Oct;26(5):314-322. doi: 10.1111/ajr.12470.

Two decades of building capacity in rural health education, training and research in Australia: University Departments of Rural Health and Rural Clinical Schools.

Author information

1
Broken Hill University Department of Rural Health, University of Sydney, Broken Hill, New South Wales, Australia.
2
Rural Clinical School, Flinders University, Renmark, South Australia, Australia.

Abstract

This review article reports on the contribution of university Departments of Rural Health and Rural Clinical Schools to the development of rural health and the rural health workforce and is set at the Australian Government's university Departments of Rural Health and Rural Clinical Training and Support Programs. The main outcome measures include educational infrastructure, clinical academic workforce, student numbers, community engagement, research outputs, rural health and workforce outcomes. As a result, university Departments of Rural Health and Rural Clinical Schools have established a substantial geographical footprint covering most of the rural and remote populations and regions across Australia. They have a large distributed rural clinical academic workforce that exceeds 1300. Medical student numbers on long-term placements have increased threefold from inception to 1200 annually. Allied health and nursing numbers doubled over 10 years to 4000 in 2013 and are projected to double again by 2018. In 2013, they published 363 peer-reviewed papers - half of which specifically addressed rural and/or remote health issues. High levels of intention to practise rurally and uptake of rural and remote practice following exposure to rural training have been reported, especially for medicine. Thus, university Departments of Rural Health and Rural Clinical Schools constitute a national network of academic units that deliver academically enriched clinical education and training for medical, nursing and allied health students and fulfil an essential academic role for the health system in rural and remote Australia. Community engagement and accountability to region are hallmarks of the program. Early evidence of the uptake of rural and remote practice following exposure to rural training has set expectations for the Rural Health Multidisciplinary Training Program.

KEYWORDS:

program evaluation; rural health academic centres; rural health education and training; rural health workforce development

PMID:
30303287
DOI:
10.1111/ajr.12470
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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