Information about the development and implementation of the Rural Health Workforce Strategy.
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 their 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 was provided to support AHPs from various regional LHNs to undertake the AHRGP from 2019.
The first group of trainees commenced their study in mid-2019, undertaking either the level 1 Allied Health Rural Generalist Program over one to two years, or the Level 2 Graduate Diploma of Rural Generalist Practice over two to three years, remotely through James Cook University (Queensland).
As part of the pathway, trainees extend their knowledge in a range of clinical areas to respond to the diverse healthcare needs of rural communities, as well as undertake local service development projects within defined key rural generalist strategies:
- 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 work 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 initial evaluation (PDF 3MB) of phase 1 of the initiative was positive with trainees anticipating the program would 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 anticipated positive outcomes for the trainees themselves as well as for their broader teams and consumers.
The mid-way evaluation (PDF 2MB) of the AHRGP, released in October 2020, outlines key outcomes and the experiences of key stakeholders at the trainees’ mid-way point of the pathway. It also provides recommendations to support the ongoing successful implementation of the pathway in the regional LHNs.
The end point evaluation (PDF 1MB), released in November 2022, outlines extensive benefits of the AHRGP including:
- lower trainee turnover rate resulting in recruitment savings
- increased intention to stay working rurally
- increased confidence and competence of trainees
- progression of local service development activities
- career advancement
- leadership skills development
Six months post-completion evaluation (PDF 590KB) was released in May 2023. All AHPs who had completed the training remained working in regional LHNs.
Evaluation of the first regional SA intake to the Allied Health Rural Generalist Pathway has shown the program boosted confidence among trainees, reduced staff turnover and improved access to quality services for consumers. Cost savings on recruitment due to reduced staff turnover were calculated at $375,000 over the 2019 to 2022 evaluation period.
The study also found the program helped develop participants’ competence in rural and remote practice, supported career advancement, and increased their intention to continue working in rural areas. View a visual representation of the 2019 – 2020 trainee cohort evaluation (PDF 315KB).
Further funding support from the Rural Health Workforce Strategy has included:
- $31,151 in 2019-20 and $89,302 in 2020-21 for an extended evaluation strategy to obtain end-point data from the first cohort of trainees; and extend the AHRGP Manager role to June 2021
- $135,520 in 2020-21 for additional AHRGP training positions, allowing a new cohort of regional LHN AHPs to commence their training from May 2021
- $63,245 in 2021-22; $59,765 in 2022-23 and $32,247 to extend the AHRGP Manager role to end December 2023
For more information
For more information, contact Jodie May on 0429 823 818
More information about the Allied Health Rural Generalist Pathway is also available on the SARRAH website.