Miss Rebecca Le1, Jessica Garner1
1Hunter New England Health, NSW, Australia
Rural Generalism: “a service that responds to the broad range of health care needs of rural communities”1. The HNE generalist program was established to address these needs, in accordance with the Allied Health Workforce Plan.
It’s a strategic pathway created to attract, develop and retain early career Allied Health Professionals, and enhance capacity and sustainability of employees.
This can be difficult in rural communities due to the unique set of challenges encountered. These include wide, varied and large caseloads, lack of professional development and support, isolation, less access to services, travel, and overall poorer health outcomes.
Rebecca Le and myself are currently employed in HNE’s program, and experiencing some of these challenges. We aim to provide insider perspectives on working in rural areas, and discuss how being involved addressed the issues identified.
We identified two major factors we believe make this program successful. Firstly, its supernumerary design allows individual areas of improvement to be identified, and freedom to gain experience across a number of these social, cultural and clinical areas.
Secondly, the program’s heavy emphasis on professional development provided opportunities to courses and training specifically designed to improve rural health outcomes. This program also allowed time spent in tertiary sites, taking experience gained there to more regional locations. We’ve been exposed to rural life and better understand challenges faced. Because of this program, we are able to successfully met health demands of an at risk population, and gained understanding of the patient journey through the healthcare system.
Rebecca Le graduated from University of Newcastle in Newcastle in 2017. She is currently working at Hunter New England Health Local Health District and is part of the Rural Generalist Program as a new graduate Rural Generalist. She has a keen interest for regional, rural and remote health and working towards positive outcomes for these respective communities.
Jessica Garner is a Level 1/3 physiotherapist employed as part of the HNE Health Rural Generalist program. She graduated from the University of Newcastle in 2016, and has since been living and working in regional sites throughout HNE. She is passionate about working in these areas, and has a particular interest in the management of chronic disease, as well as acute orthopaedic and musculoskeletal injuries.