Rural Health Workforce Strategy
Information about the development and implementation of the Rural Health Workforce Strategy.
The Allied Health Rural Generalist Pathway (AHRGP) is a workforce development initiative that combines a formal education program with local support systems to support the development of clinical and non-clinical rural generalist specialist skills in early-career allied health professionals (AHPs). It provides an opportunity for the development of rural generalist knowledge and capabilities to help better meet the needs of consumers and improve workforce retention in rural areas.
An Allied Health Rural Generalist Practitioner responds to the broad range of healthcare needs of a rural or remote community with a wide range of clinical presentations (working to the full scope of the profession, and often working to extended or advanced scope of practice). A rural generalist is not a generic allied health worker. Rural generalists practice under the regulatory instruments relevant to the individual’s specific allied health profession and the policies of their employer.
In South Australia, Rural Health Workforce Strategy funding was provided to support AHPs from various regional LHNs to undertake the AHRGP from 2019. The first group of trainees commenced their study in mid-2019, undertaking either the level 1 Allied Health Rural Generalist Program over one to two years, or the Level 2 Graduate Diploma of Rural Generalist Practice over two to three years, both through James Cook University.
As part of the pathway, trainees extend their knowledge in a range of clinical areas in order to respond to the diverse healthcare needs of rural communities, as well as undertake local service development projects within defined key rural generalist strategies:
Trainees work with their local teams in regional LHNs to implement innovative and effective solutions to the challenges of delivering care across geographically dispersed and culturally diverse populations.
An initial evaluation (PDF 3MB) of phase 1 of the initiative was positive with trainees anticipating the program would give them the confidence and ability to work as more advanced rural generalist clinicians to better meet the needs of their local communities, while managers and supervisors anticipated positive outcomes for the trainees themselves as well as for their broader teams and consumers.
The mid-way evaluation (PDF 2MB) of the AHRGP, released in October 2020, outlines key outcomes and the experiences of key stakeholders at the trainees’ mid-way point of the pathway. It also provides recommendations to support the ongoing successful implementation of the pathway in the regional LHNs.
In February 2020, the Minister for Health and Wellbeing approved an extension of funding for the AHRGP, with an additional $31,151 in 2019-20 and $89,302 in 2020-21. This funding will extend the evaluation strategy so that end-point data can be obtained from the first cohort of trainees scheduled to finish their studies by mid-2022, and extend the AHRGP Project Manager role to June 2021.
Further Rural Health Workforce Strategy funding announced in February 2021 included $135,520 in 2020-21 for additional AHRGP training positions, allowing the following new cohort of regional LHN AHPs to commence their training from May 2021:
Level 1: Allied Health Rural Generalist Program (1–2 years part-time)
Level 2: Graduate Diploma Rural Generalist Practice (2–3 years part-time)
In addition, $63,245 will be provided in 2021-22 to extend the AHRGP Project Manager role to June 2022.
More information about the Allied Health Rural Generalist Pathway is also available on the SARRAH website.