2017 Rural Health Conferences

The 14th National Rural Health Conference, the 3rd World Summit on Rural Generalist Medicine, and the 14th World Rural Health Conference (WONCA) was held in Cairns from 26 April to 2 May 2017.  Delegates from Monash Rural Health made substantial contributions to these conferences, through presentations, posters and participation in a range of collaborative meetings, including the following:

14th National Rural Health Conference

Campbell D Presenter and member of panel discussion at a pre-conference workshop entitled “Rural and remote workforce sustainability, is it possible?”

Russell D, Zhao Y, Guthridge S, Ramjan M, Wakerman J, Jones MP & Humphreys JS
Health workforce turnover in remote Indigenous communities – who stays, who goes? Oral presentation.
This presentation was very well attended, indicative of the high level of interest in the results of this ARC project.  Following the presentation, conference delegates affirmed the study’s findings of extremely high levels of turnover of resident health staff in remote Indigenous communities. Download the slides.
Project:  The impact and cost of short-term health staffing in remote communities. Funded by an Australian Research Council Discovery Project.

Lisa, Kathy, Deborah and John
The Elmore team: Lisa Lavey, Kathy Tuohey, John Humphreys and Deborah Russell

Russell D, Tuohey K, Lavey L & Humphreys J.
Improving rural health: Research activity can build capacity and make a difference, Oral presentation.
Elmore Primary Health Service Practice Manager, Kathy Tuohey, was delighted to attend and provided comprehensive responses to questions following the presentation. Kathy confirmed the importance of the relationship with Monash researchers for strengthening their health service. Download the paper and the slides.
Project:  Longitudinal evaluation of the Elmore Primary Health Service – a project of the Centre of Research Excellence in Rural and Remote Primary Health Care.  Funded by the Australian Primary Health Care Research Institute.

McGrail M, Russell D & O’Sullivan B.
Are practice locations associated with GPs having school-age children and working spouses? Oral presentation.
Matthew’s presentation provided the first systematic, national-level longitudinal evidence suggesting that GP work location is related to schooling and partner employment opportunities. Uniquely, these influences were differentiated according to GP gender and child educational stage. Regional development ideas, including developing targeted educational and employment opportunities were discussed. Download the paper and the slides.
Project: Centre for Research Excellence in Medical Workforce Dynamics: Medicine in Australia: Balancing Employment and Life (MABEL).  Funded by the NHMRC.

O’Sullivan B, McGrail M & Russell D
Rural medical specialists: Their work and satisfaction, Oral presentation.
Belinda’s presentation, the first national study of work patterns and satisfaction of rural versus metropolitan specialists, found that the supply of some specialties considered important in regional areas still lag supply in large regional centres. Rural specialists, however, are just as satisfied with their work and remuneration as specialists in metropolitan areas. The presentation stimulated strong discussion among health service managers and policy-makers about regional specialist training, rural workforce planning and recruitment strategies. Download the paper and the slides.
Project: Centre for Research Excellence in Medical Workforce Dynamics: Medicine in Australia: Balancing Employment and Life (MABEL).  Funded by the NHMRC.

Campbell D, Mallia K, Connolly M, D’Amore A, McGrail M.
Scope of practice of nurses and allied health practitioners in East Gippsland, Oral presentation.
David’s presentation detailed research which provided a snap-shot of the education and clinical experience and attitudes to practice of a small cohort of mainly experienced rural health practitioners in East Gippsland. This research also formed the basis for his invited presentation at the pre-conference “Rural and remote workforce sustainability, is it possible?” workshop. Download the paper and the slides
Project: Scope of practice of nurses and allied health practitioners in East Gippsland.  Funded by the Rural Workforce Agency Victoria.

Sutton K, Waller S, Smith T & Fisher K.
Informing rural practice decision making of urban trained allied health and nursing students, Oral presentation.
Keith’s presentation explained how increasing interest in and increasing participation in rural practice by urban trained allied health professionals and nurses involves a complex interplay of personal and professional factors. (The final report is available on the Rural Health Workforce Australia website.) Download the paper and the slides
Project: Understanding the decision to relocate rural amongst urban nursing and allied health students and recent graduates.  Funded by the Rural Health Workforce Australia.

Greacen J, Paton D, Blaber D, Anderson C, Bundle G, Campbell D, Mitchell E, Mullett A, Mullte Ra, Mullet Ro, O’Shanassy B, Pearce M & Pearce R,
Increasing the Aboriginal health workforce in East Gippsland, Oral presentation.
This presentation detailed research investigating a range of barriers to East Gippsland Aboriginal high school students becoming health professionals. Importantly, the Centre of Excellence for Aboriginal Health in East Gippsland used the research findings to help inform local strategies to encourage Aboriginal students to undertake health careers. Download the paper and the slides.
Project: Research into barriers in East Gippsland to completing school and becoming health professionals. Funded by Monash Rural Health East & South Gippsland.

Chambers, H and Khalil, H.
A world of rural health through literature, Poster presentation.
Helen and Hanan’s poster used Leximancer to develop concept maps in rural health literature, finding six major rural health themes, and investigating how the focus of research has changed over time. Download the poster.

Back to top

14th World Rural Health Conference (WONCA)

Campbell D. 
David led three workshops, including an overview of the history and development of the “Rural Emergency Skills Training” (REST) Course, a workshop on selection into medical education programs to produce rural doctors; and a workshop on rural medicine training and assessment as related to ACRRM’s training program.

O’Sullivan B, McGrail MR & Russell D.
A synthesis of the structure of rural immersion programs for undergraduate medical students in Australia, Oral presentation. (paper under review).
Belinda’s presentation provided a broad account of the structure and outcomes of rural immersion programs in Australia, to inform national policy and areas for further research. Her paper has since been submitted to Human Resources for Health.

Matthew McGrail explains his poster to a male conference delegate
Matthew McGrail discusses his poster with another conference delegate.

McGrail M, Russell D, Campbell D & O’Sullivan B.
Vocationally training General Practitioners (GPs) rurally: Where will they practice long-term?  Poster presentation.
Matthew presented data from his recent manuscript published in MJA, which is the first national study to use longitudinal data and rigorous quantitative methods to capture real changes in the work location of GPs immediately following completion of vocational training. Rural vocational training was associated with subsequent rural practice, though with some attenuation of effect over time. Download the poster.
Project: Centre for Research Excellence in Medical Workforce Dynamics: Medicine in Australia: Balancing Employment and Life (MABEL). Funded by the NHMRC.

Zhao Y, Russell DJ, Guthridge S, Ramjan M, Wakerman J, Jones MP & Humphreys JS.
Long-term trends in health workforce supply and retention in remote communities in the Northern Territory, Australia, 2004 to 2015. Poster presentation.
Deb’s poster highlighted overall increases in workforce supply in remote NT communities between 2004 and 2015, which have been negatively affected by continuing very high turnover of nurses and AHPs, and compounded by recent declines in AHP supply. This research has since been submitted as a manuscript for peer-review in an international journal. Download the poster.
Project:  The impact and cost of short-term health staffing in remote communities. Funded by an Australian Research Council Discovery Project.

Back to top

Rural Generalist Jurisdictional Workshop

Belinda, Deborah and David
Belinda O'Sullivan, Deborah Russell and David Campbell at the Jurisdictional Workshop.

Deb Russell, Belinda O’Sullivan and David Campbell were invited to attend this workshop convened to explore the steps required for the establishment of a National Rural Generalist Program. In attendance were the Federal Assistant Minister for Health, David Gillespie, and invited jurisdictional representatives from rural workforce agencies, State and Commonwealth health departments, medical colleges and other key rural workforce stakeholders. Deb Russell set the tone for the forum presenting quantitative evidence about the retention of rural GPs and the distribution and work patterns of the rural generalist workforce. The utility of the MABEL survey for conducting such research was noted, and the need for ongoing investment in such important data infrastructure was highlighted. The lack of funding for the MABEL survey in 2018 was noted by Minister Gillespie. The MABEL policy brief, “Solving Australia’s rural medical workforce shortage”, was made available at the forum and was recognised as a key summary of evidence.

Other happenings from the conference

Belinda O’Sullivan participated in a 20-minute pre-recorded interview with ABC North Queensland Radio, about getting specialists into regional areas. The interview was followed up with a live interview on ABC Nightlife on 8 May 2017, discussing the medical workforce in Australia.

Professor Lesley Russell (University of Sydney) gave a key note presentation on “The economics of delivering primary care in rural and under-served areas – what works?” A major part of her presentation referenced the important ground work undertaken by our Centre of Research Excellence in Rural and Remote Primary Health Care (official long title was used: Centre for Excellence for Accessible and Equitable Primary Health Care Service Provision in Rural and Remote Australia). She also noted that “….too much important information and knowledge is locked away, unreleased or just forgotten. There is no point in reinventing the wheel and repeating previous studies and even previous mistakes”. View this presentation online, download the paper and the slides.

Back to top