Improving the rural health workforce
The University of Sydney’s long term commitment to improving health and medical education in regional New South Wales was recognised in the 2011 Premier’s Public Sector Award in Regional Innovation.
Sydney Medical School’s Professor Lesley Barclay, Director of the University Centre for Rural Health North Coast, accepted the Regional Innovation award on behalf of the Northern NSW Local Health District, its partner Universities and other regional education providers who have worked together over a decade to expand the health and medical education opportunities on the north coast of New South Wales.
Their winning submission, called 'Building a Sustainable Workforce on the North Coast’, was based on the 500 per cent expansion in clinical training placements for health and medical students in recent years. A growing number of these young students are now returning to the region as registered professionals. Among other signs of success, in 2012 five interns appointed at Lismore Hospital completed some of their clinical training through the University Centre for Rural Health.
“We are delighted with this award,” Professor Barclay said. “With all the parties working together, we have achieved improved health outcomes for this community. We were recently awarded additional funds to expand our accommodation and develop new facilities, and we are looking forward to even better results in developing a strong health workforce in the future.”
The University Centre (then Department) for Rural Health was established in 2001 as a partnership between University of Sydney and Southern Cross University, subsequently expanded to include University of Wollongong and University of Western Sydney. The Centre this year provided clinical training to over 700 students in medicine, dentistry, pharmacy, physiotherapy and other health professions. It is also providing the University with a growing base in regional health and medical research: Professor Barclay was one of the University’s major grant winners in this year’s National Health and Medical Research Council awards for a project which will assess capacity in regional maternal and child health services.