Pro­gram aims to bridge gaps

Pilbara News - - Education - Tom Zaun­mayr

A part­ner­ship be­tween the Univer­sity of Western Aus­tralia and the Pil­bara Health Net­work will in­volve health train­ing and re­search un­der­taken in Kar­ratha, at the GP Su­per Clinic.

The part­ner­ship will ini­tially in­volve five stu­dents from the West Aus­tralian Cen­tre for Ru­ral Health placed in Kar­ratha, with the po­ten­tial to grow in the fu­ture.

WACRH di­rec­tor San­dra Thomp­son said con­tenders for place­ments in­cluded nurs­ing, so­cial work, po­di­a­try, di­etet­ics, health pro­mo­tion and phar­macy.

“As well as learn­ing clin­i­cal skills, we aim to have stu­dents de­velop a greater un­der­stand­ing of the strengths and chal­lenges for ru­ral res­i­dents and for health pro­fes­sion­als who are part of help­ing them man­age their health is­sues,” she said.

“We know that stu­dents who are raised in a ru­ral re­gion are more likely to re­turn to prac­tise in a ru­ral re­gion so lo­cal peo­ple who train as health pro­fes­sion­als can bring their life­time of ex­pe­ri­ence and un­der­stand­ing to bear when they prac­tise as health pro­fes­sion­als.

“Lo­cals may also have sub­stan­tial costs when they live away from home or not be able to take up pro­fes­sional ca­reers and train­ing be­cause of fam­ily com­mit­ments.”

Ms Thomp­son said she hoped speech pathol­ogy, oc­cu­pa­tional ther- apy and phys­io­ther­apy stu­dents would also be able to have place­ments.

The re­search side of the part­ner­ship will in­volve in­ter­ests in health ser­vices re­search, chronic dis­ease man­age­ment, health pro­mo­tion, re­duc­ing health dis­par­i­ties, pop­u­la­tion health, Abo­rig­i­nal health, health work­force and ex­plor­ing in­no­va­tions in tech­nol­ogy.

Ms Thomp­son said WACRH’s strength in re­search was around un­der­stand­ing the con­text for peo­ple liv­ing in ru­ral and re­mote ar­eas.

“While our part­ner­ship with PHN is re­lated to the clin­i­cal ser­vices they de­liver, our re­search does not need to be con­fined to within the clinic and given our mul­ti­dis­ci­plinary ap­proach, we have a wide range of ex­per­tise to draw on,” she said.

Kar­ratha Cen­tral Health­care chief ex­ec­u­tive Jo Halpin said she hoped the pro­gram would en­cour­age health stu­dents to stay in Kar­ratha.

“When stu­dents are fin­ish­ing Year 12 and think­ing of go­ing into clin­i­cal and med­i­cal ca­reers they can come down here and see what we do and get hands on,” she said.

Ms Halpin said they would be work­ing with the hos­pi­tal and other med­i­cal ser­vices to pro­vide train­ing.

Ms Thomp­son said WACRH’s op­er­a­tions would start small while they build in­fra­struc­ture as well as aca­demic and clin­i­cal place­ment sup­port.

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