Program aims to bridge gaps
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.