By Lisa Davies-Jones, Chief Executive, North West Hospital and Health Service.
Recently I had the privilege of presenting certificates to three staff members from the North West Hospital and Health Service. It's a very enjoyable part of my job - meeting staff and seeing them succeed - and this particular presentation was very special. The three staff members were inaugural participants in the James Cook University Rural Generalist Program, alongside 13 others from across Queensland. The education program is part of Queensland Health's Allied Health Rural Generalist Pathway.
Why is the Allied Health Rural Generalist Pathway so special? Because it's provided my service with the ability to 'grow our own' allied health workforce, and provided staff with an intensive learning and development opportunity not readily available, even in urban centres.
As many other rural and remote chief executives and senior staff will appreciate, recruitment and retention in these parts of Queensland can be hard. We love where we live, but unless staff can see opportunities to develop and progress, a great community and scenic surrounds aren't enough to draw people in. And rightly so - everyone deserves and needs the opportunity to advance their skills and their careers.
In the North West, the pathway has enabled physiotherapist Andric Lu to contribute to the development of a telehealth-supported physiotherapy service across our catchment area. This service will allow patients to return to their local community a lot quicker, and be treated closer to family and country.
Fellow physiotherapist Bonnie Collins has contributed to the expansion of the physiotherapy services in the Mount Isa Hospital Emergency Department because of her participation in the Allied Heath Rural Generalist Pathway. It's meant Mount Isa patients have improved access to this service. Speech pathologist Hannah Sharp has been contributing to the development and implementation of a local Videofleuroscopic Swallow Study Service.
All in all, the AHRGP is enabling the North West to not only increase access to services for rural and remote patients but to also save time and money, which as we know is important for health services that are continually trying to find ways to do things smarter and better. But most importantly for us, it's enabling our staff to play a greater role in their local community, to become a bigger part of the community, and deliver more services where they're needed.
From one chief exec to another - if you haven't already got the Allied Health Rural Generalist Pathway fully embedded in your health service, contact the Allied Health Professions’ Office of Queensland team today!
PICTURED ABOVE (L-R): Adrian, Hannah, Lisa, and Bonnie with Allied Health Clinical Educator Katheryn Farry.