Allied Health Rural Generalist Pathway

The Allied Health Rural Generalist Pathway (AHRGP) is a workforce development initiative that combines a formal education program with local support systems to support the development of clinical and non-clinical rural generalist specialist skills in early-career allied health professionals (AHPs). It provides an opportunity for the development of rural generalist knowledge and capabilities to help better meet the needs of consumers and improve workforce retention in rural areas.

An Allied Health Rural Generalist Practitioner responds to the broad range of healthcare needs of a rural or remote community with a wide range of clinical presentations (working to the full scope of the profession, and often working to extended or advanced scope of practice). A rural generalist is not a generic allied health worker. Rural generalists practice under the regulatory instruments relevant to the individual’s specific allied health profession and the policies of their employer.

In South Australia, Rural Health Workforce Strategy funding of $313,230 was originally provided to support AHPs from various regional local health networks (LHNs) to undertake the AHRGP from 2019.

Trainees commenced their study in June and July 2019 and will complete the program over one to two years (for Level 1), and two to three years (for Level 2).

In 2020, five AHPs are undertaking the Level 1 Allied Health Rural Generalist Program, and five AHPs are undertaking the Level 2 Graduate Diploma of Rural Generalist Practice, both through James Cook University.

As part of their assessment tasks, trainees will extend their knowledge in a range of clinical areas in order to respond to the diverse healthcare needs of rural communities, as well as undertake service development projects within defined key rural generalist strategies:

  • telehealth
  • delegation to support workers (e.g. allied health assistants)
  • extended scope of practice, or skill sharing / trans-professional practice
  • partnerships / shared-care service models supporting care for complex or low frequency clinical presentations.

Trainees are working with their local teams in regional LHNs to implement innovative and effective solutions to the challenges of delivering care across geographically dispersed and culturally diverse populations.

An evaluation (PDF 3MB) of phase 1 of the initiative has been positive. Trainees are anticipating the program will give them the confidence and ability to work as more advanced rural generalist clinicians to better meet the needs of their local communities, while managers and supervisors anticipate positive outcomes for the trainees themselves as well as for their broader teams and consumers. Program outcomes will be explored in more detail at the mid-way and end point of the program.

A stakeholder group has been formed to support strategic oversight of the AHRGP in South Australia, and to define and support the future direction of the AHRGP.

In February 2020, the Minister for Health and Wellbeing approved an extension of funding for the AHRGP, with an additional $31,151 in 2019-20 and $89,302 in 2020-21. This funding will extend the evaluation strategy so that end-point data can be obtained from the trainees scheduled to finish their studies by June 2021, and extend the AHRGP Project Manager role to June 2021.

For more information, contact Jodie May on (08) 8563 8561 or at jodie.may@sa.gov.au

More information about the Allied Health Rural Generalist Pathway is also available on the SARRAH website.