Outcomes of the Queensland Health rural generalist training position strategy 2014-2016

Ms Ilsa Nielsen1, Ms Vanessa Burge3, Ms Julie Hulcombe2

1Allied Health Professions’ Office Qld, Queensland Health, Cairns, Australia, 2Allied Health Professions’ Office Qld, Queensland Health, Brisbane, Australia, 3Allied Health Education and Training, Darling Downs Hospital and Health Service, Toowoomba, Australia


Introduction:Queensland Health designed, implemented and evaluated eleven supernumerary, temporary rural generalist training positions for early career allied health professionals between 2014 and 2016.

Methods/strategy:Host sites implemented and trialled the training position employment model, including mandatory training and supervision requirements, and completed a service development project to better integrate rural generalist service strategies such as telehealth and delegation.  Individual position holders were employed for a one or two-year term. Local training and service outputs were reported and collated at statewide level and workforce data extracted from HR systems.  A qualitative evaluation was completed by Southern Cross University in 2014.


No attrition from training roles for the 22 position holders in 2014-2016 cohorts.

Employment destinations six months after separation from the training roles showed 73% remained in regional, rural or remote Queensland Health facilities.

Service development examples:

New physiotherapy telehealth services saved 2940km/year client travel in one site and demonstrated non-inferior clinical outcomes in another site.

Clinical task delegation to assistants increased 35% in a rural hospital.

A five-fold increase in telehealth revenue for a rural dietetics clinic.

Training:Local training plans were implemented but the lack of a formal rural generalist education program was an identified barrier to developing a rural generalist pathway for allied health professions.

Conclusion: The trial developed and described the rural generalist workforce/employment model and service requirements for allied health.  Findings are informing the national Allied Health Rural Generalist Pathway strategies including a new education program and the growth of training roles.


Ilsa Nielsen is currently employed as a Principal Workforce Officer in the Allied Health Professions’ Office of Queensland, Department of Health, Queensland Government.  This role is based in Cairns in far northern Queensland and supports workforce policy, planning and development for rural and remote allied health services across Queensland Health.  Ilsa is a physiotherapist and has post-graduate qualifications in public health, education, and health economics and policy.  Her former appointments include academic and clinical physiotherapy positions in metropolitan and regional Queensland.