The Allied Health Rural Generalist Pathway supports hospital and health services (HHSs) to implement a comprehensive approach to service improvement, workforce development, and training in rural and remote allied health teams. The Allied Health Professions’ Office of Queensland (AHPOQ) worked closely with allied health and rural service leaders in HHSs, health sector partners in other states and territories, peak bodies, and universities to design and trial the pathway.
Thirty-four designated rural generalist training positions will be implemented at HHSs during the 2019–20 financial year. This is an increase from 21 positions in the 2018–19 financial year. The pathway, which aims to improve the outcomes and sustainability of allied health service, is available for nine professions. These include dietetics and nutrition, medical imaging, occupational therapy, pharmacy, physiotherapy, podiatry, psychology, social work, and speech pathology.
The rural generalist trainees undertake comprehensive, work integrated training relevant to their profession and setting, including post-graduate study. Training sites complete projects to improve service access, quality and efficiency, and provide benefits for rural and remote communities.
Biloela Speech Pathologist and Rural Generalist Trainee Emma Rewald said she was attracted to the pathway as an early career professional. ‘I saw it as an excellent opportunity to develop my clinical knowledge and skills in all the different areas of speech pathology practice,’ Ms Rewald said. She is also studying a Graduate Diploma of Rural Generalist Practice at James Cook University.
Ms Rewald has been integral to the development of a service model in the region for clients with swallowing problems. The model has enabled timely access to assessment and rehabilitation thanks to telehealth and allied health assistants.
‘As part of the pathway, I have been involved in service improvement projects, such as telehealth, that have made a positive difference to healthcare delivery for those living in Central Queensland, including better access to services that are closer to home. To know that I have had a part in these improvements at first hand has been pretty amazing,’ she said.
Emma Rewald—Speech Pathology Rural Generalist Trainee, Central Queensland Hospital and Health Service
Rural allied health managers have been eager to integrate the pathway into their workforce structures, too. The Team Leader, Rural Allied and Community Health in Gayndah, Lisa Baker, said: ‘Recruitment and retention of allied health professionals can be challenging in rural areas. The Allied Health Rural Generalist Pathway offers an identified career opportunity which helps to attract staff and it also provides structured learning and professional development to support new team members who may not have worked in a rural area before.’
The Allied Health Professions’ Office of Queensland also provides funding to HHSs to facilitate the redesign of Health Practitioner Level 3 (HP3) roles into designated rural generalist training positions that include allocated training and development time, and profession-specific supervision and work-based training.
‘At present, the Gayndah service has five trainees. The support package funding from the Allied Health Professions’ Office of Queensland attached to these positions enables the release of dedicated time to support projects, and to develop resources to support our early career professionals on the Pathway, which benefits everyone.’
For more information, visit the Rural and remote allied health professionals webpage.
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