Predicting the future health workforce – finding leaks in the pipeline

Ms. Claire  Seaman1, Professor  Megan Smith1, Prof. Deborah Warr1, Associate Professor  Gene Hodgins1, Mr. Brent Smith1

1Three Rivers University Department Rural Health, North Wagga Wagga, Australia

Abstract:

Addressing the recruitment and retention of the rural allied health workforce is a critical issue impacting on the quality of health care for rural communities. Research suggests that future rural recruitment could be enhanced by supporting students from rural backgrounds to study health professions in rural locations with opportunities for rural placements. This pipeline strategy informs a range of initiatives targeting rural-background students to study health professions. To assess progress in these efforts we analysed student enrolment data to identify factors that shaped the profile of students enrolling in allied health courses at Charles Sturt University (CSU). CSU delivers entry-level allied health profession education with over 5000 students enrolled across 15 allied health degrees with all of its campuses in regional locations.
In this presentation we discuss analyses of allied health student enrolments at CSU to explore associations between biographical factors and course preferences. The analyses show that just over 60% of students at CSU have rural backgrounds, and notable differences between students from rural- and metropolitan-background students in course selections and placement preferences. Other factors, including, gender, proximity of campuses to capital cities, type of degree (under- or post-graduate) and mode of course delivery also appeared to influence enrolment preferences. Students from rural backgrounds included relatively high numbers of Indigenous and Torres Strait Islander and women. The findings offer important insights into factors influencing students’ preferences to study at a rural university that are relevant to maximising the success of a pipeline strategy for building a rural health workforce.


Biography:

Claire is the Program Evaluator for Three Rivers UDRH. She has expertise in quantitative methodologies and has experience in Her in developing and conducting applied research projects. She is currently completing her PhD in sociology and her doctoral thesis examines prosocial engagement and well-being among Australian men and women.