Ms Jodie May1, Alison Dymmott2, Julianne O’Connor1, Silvana Poklar1
1Barossa Hills Fleurieu Local Health Network, Nuriootpa, Australia, 2Flinders University of South Australia, Bedford Park, Australia
The Allied Health Rural Generalist Pathway (AHRGP) is a workforce initiative that supports the development of rural generalist specialist skills in early-career AHPs, to better meet the needs of consumers and improve workforce retention in rural areas.
In 2019 SA Health introduced the AHRGP in its regional local health networks for the first time. A research partnership with Flinders University is formally evaluating the effectiveness, appropriateness and suitability of the program. A four-phase evaluation is being undertaken with the first cohort of AHPs who entered the program in 2019, seeking feedback from the AHPs, their line managers, clinical supervisors and profession leads, as well as the project team and consumer representatives at the pre, mid-way, post, and 6-month follow-up stage.
Completion of the pre- and mid-way evaluation phases has provided valuable insights from stakeholders’ early experiences of the program, including early positive outcomes, challenges, and areas for improvement. It also provided early recommendations on which professions, locations, and trainee characteristics were particularly suited to the AHRGP.
When SA Health secured funding to enrol a new cohort of AHPs in the AHRGP from 2021, this research was drawn on to modify the selection process used in 2019, and inform the key factors considered when choosing successful applicants. The final 2021-cohort of AHPs selected were comprehensively assessed against priorities set for professions, rural location, local supports available, length of experience, and commitment to rural practice. Outcomes for the 2021-cohort will be further monitored and compared to those observed for the 2019-cohort.
Jodie May has coordinated the implementation of the AHRGP in South Australia since 2019 as a project manager within the Rural Support Service. Jodie capitalises on her own 15+ years experience working in rural SA as an AHP, progressing from new graduate through to clinical senior, in supporting workforce initiatives that will benefit rural South Australian AHPs.
Alison Dymmott is an occupational therapy lecturer, placement education coordinator and researcher at Flinders University. She has worked clinically across rural and metropolitan South Australia in a range of leadership roles including in state-wide project management and policy development. Alison’s research interests are in rural health and workforce, clinical education and occupational therapy evidence-based practice. She is currently undertaking her PhD in conjunction with SA Health around allied health workforce strategies.