The University of Newcastle
Department of Rural Health
Department of Rural Health

Rural and Remote Health Workforce

Interprofessional collaboration and teamwork in a rural setting

This area of research includes a focus on 'communities of practice' and the way health professional's work together in rural settings. There are many challenges to the sustainability of existing communities of practice and a need for new ones to be cultivated with the advent of Medicare Locals and the growing importance of the management of chronic disease. This research aims to understand the ways that communities of health professionals work together in a changing environment.

Publications include:

Little F, Brown L, Grotowski M, Harris D. Nourishing networks: An interprofessional learning model and its application to the Australian rural health workforce paper. Rural and Remote Health (Online) 2012; 12:2022

Smith T, Stone N, Bull R. Strengthening interprofessional practice. In A Textbook of Australian Rural Health, Liaw S-T, Kilpatrick S (Ed.). Australian Rural Health Education Network, Canberra, 2008. ISBN 978 0 9775687 2 7

Smith T, Jones P. Remote x-ray operator radiography: a case study in interprofessional rural clinical practice. Journal of Interprofessional Care 2007; 21(3): 289-302

Smith T, Stone N, Bull R, Chesters J, Waller S, Playford D, Fuller J. Australian Rural Health Education Network's position on interprofessional education and practice in health care.  Rural and Remote Health (Online), 2007, 7:866

Recruitment and retention of the rural health workforce

Projects in this area include the investigation of factors affecting the recruitment and retention of health professionals in regional, rural and remote centres. The University of Newcastle Department of Rural Health has been a key player in the collection of data for the allied health workforce studies. Projects are ongoing in relation to the demographic characteristics and needs of the workforce in specific disciplines.

Publications include:

Brown L, Williams L, Capra S. Developing dietetic positions in rural areas: what are the key lessons? Rural and Remote Health (Online), 2012; 12:1923

Whitford D, Smith T, Newbury J. The South Australian allied health workforce study: Helping to fill the evidence gap in primary health workforce planning. Australian Journal of Primary Health 2012; 18: 234–241.

Keane S, Lincoln M, Smith T. Retention of allied health professionals in rural New South Wales: a thematic analysis of focus group discussions.  BMC Health Services Research   2012; 12: 175.

Keane S, Smith T, Lincoln M, Fisher K. Survey of the rural allied health workforce in New South Wales to inform recruitment and retention. Australian Journal of Rural Health 2011; 19(1): 38-44

Smith T, Fisher K, Keane S, Lincoln M. Comparison of the results of two rural allied health workforce surveys in the Hunter New England region of New South Wales: 2005 versus 2008; Australian Journal of Rural Health 2011; 19(3): 154-159

Brown L, Williams L, Capra S. Going rural but not staying long: recruitment and retention issues for the rural dietetic workforce in Australia.  Nutrition and Dietetics 2010; 67(4): 309-316

Meek R, Doherty S, Deans A. Factors influencing rural versus metropolitan work choices for emergency physicians. Emergency Medicine Australasia 2009; 21(4): 323-328

May J, Cooper R, Magin P, Critchley A.  Integrated models or mayhem?  Lessons learnt from three integrated primary health care entities in regional New South Wales.  Australian Health Review 2008; 32(4):595-604

Smith T, Cooper R, Brown L, Hemmings S, Greaves J. Profile of the rural allied health workforce in northern New South Wales and comparison with previous studies. Australian Journal of Rural Health 2008; 16(3): 158-163

Keane S, Smith T, Lincoln M, Wagner S, Lowe S. The rural allied health workforce study (RAHWS): background, rationale and questionnaire development. Rural & Remote Health (Online) 2008; 8: 1132

May J. Rural and Remote and Metropolitan Area 3: The forgotten RRMA.  Australia Journal of Rural Health 2007; 15(3): 216-217

May J, Jones P, Cooper R, Morrissey M, Kershaw G. GP perceptions of workforce shortage in a rural setting. Rural and Remote Health (Online), 2007, 7:720

Scope of practice and role development for rural health practitioners

Changes to the way that health care is delivered will require the renegotiation of interprofessional boundaries. This area of research focuses on the transfer of specific skills and competencies across professional boundaries, with an emphasis on appropriateness of care and patient safety.

Publications include:

Smith T, Fisher K. Self-reported competency and continuing education needs of limited license remote X-ray operators in New South Wales, Australia. Rural and Remote Health (Online) 2011 11: 1560 

Dennis S, May J, Perkins D, Zwar N, Sibbald B, Hasan I. What evidence is there to support skill mix changes between GPs, pharmacists and practice nurses in the care of elderly people living in the community? Australia and New Zealand Health Policy, 2009, 6:23

Hardy M, Snaith B, Smith T, Radiographer reporting of trauma images: United Kingdom experience and the implications for evolving international practice. The Radiographer 2008; 55(1): 16-19

Smith T, Yielder J, Ajibulu O, Caruana E. Progress towards advanced practice roles in Australia, New Zealand and the Western Pacific. Radiography 2008; 14(Suppl 1): e20-e23

Smith T, 'Skill transfer' and interprofessional boundaries in rural and remote radiography. Australian Journal of Rural Health 2007; 15(4): 273-274

Smith T, Baird M. Radiographers' role in radiological reporting: a model to support future demand. Medical Journal of Australia 2007; 186(12): 629-631


Evaluation of innovative models of rural health service delivery

Work in this area includes models of care for people with eating disorders, which has involved gap analysis and the development of an interprofessional education program that evolved into a educational model to be delivered across multiple regional sites. The University of Newcastle Department of Rural Health has also been involved in the support and evaluation of GP entities in partnership with the North West Slopes Division of General Practice in the development of a GP entity named Peel Health. In addition, the role of pharmacists in medication reconciliation in the acute care setting is under investigation.

Publications include:

Brown L, Mitchell L, Williams L, Macdonald-Wicks L, Capra S. Private practice in rural areas? An untapped opportunity for dietitians. Australian Journal of Rural Health 2011; 19(4): 191-196

Brown L, Little F. Nourishing Networks: Using information technology and mentoring to promote interdisciplinary education and training in rural areas. In Larson A, Lyle D (Eds). A Bright Future for Rural Health: Evidence-Based Policy and Practice in Rural and Remote Australian Health Care. Australian Rural Health Education Network, April 2010, pp.82-84. ISBN 978 0 9775687 3 4

May J, Cooper R, Magin P, Critchley A.  Integrated models or mayhem?  Lessons learnt from three integrated primary health care entities in regional New South Wales.  Australian Health Review, November 2008; 32(4):595-604

Brown L, Capra S, Williams L.  A best practice dietetic service for rural patients with cancer undergoing chemotherapy: A pilot of a pseudo-randomised controlled trial.  Nutrition and Dietetics, 2008; 65(2): 175-180

Jones P, May J, Creighton A. Health service models. In A Textbook of Australian Rural Health, Liaw S-T, Kilpatrick S (Ed.). Australian Rural Health Education Network, Canberra, 2008. ISBN 978 0 9775687 2 7

For all enquiries on the above areas of research, please contact:     Jenny May