The Fourth Pan-Commonwealth Forum on Open Learning (PCF4)
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Judi Walker

Open and distance learning for workforce development in rural and remote medicine to sustain declining health services

Judi Walker
Rural Clinical School, University of Tasmania

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     Last modified: March 23, 2006
     Presentation date: 11/02/2006 4:15 PM in NT Manchester
     (View Schedule)

In the north-west region of Australia’s island state of Tasmania, as in other rural and remote regions, it is difficult to recruit and retain medical and other health practitioners. This region has less than the national average number of dentists, employed medical practitioners, physiotherapists, registered and enrolled nurses. It has some of the worst health outcomes in the country.

All professions report that retention of local graduates is preferable and less
problematic than national and international recruitment efforts. They report that job satisfaction is enhanced in work environments that encourage teaching and supervision, research and continuous learning. Health services in the region are strengthened by recruitment of locally trained clinicians, who are able to meet the health needs of rural and remote communities through an integrated open learning model, with a balance of hospital, community and rural clinical training and experience.

The objective of this paper is to share the development strategies and
positive outcomes from an innovation in which the University of Tasmania, in
collaboration with federal, state and local governments and the local community, has utilised an open learning approach to underpin the development of a Rural Clinical School to train an effective future health workforce locally.

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