An independent evaluation of a Federal Government program to provide grants to health professionals in more remote areas has given the initiative top marks. Stream 2 of the Rural Health Continuing Education program (RHCE2) provides grants, on a competitive basis, to help individuals and multi-professional groups of health service providers obtain the continuing professional development (CPD) they so desperately need.
The evaluation highlights the difficulties for rural health professionals in obtaining CPD in rural and remote areas and a variety of approaches to improving the situation in ways that meet local needs. In many cases the health professionals involved have to undertake a specified amount of CPD to retain their accreditation to practise.
The RHCE2 program has demonstrated the significant unmet need for such supportive arrangements. The program has been regularly and substantially oversubscribed, meaning that many worthy requests from a range of health professionals have had to be turned down.
The independent review of the program reported unanimous support and praise for the program's efforts and outcomes. The program was said to be great value for money for the amount of funds spent. The evaluators found that the program is "punching well above its weight" in contributing to the professional development of the rural and remote health workforce.
The RHCE2 program is managed for the Commonwealth Department of Health by the National Rural Health Alliance. A copy of the review report can be read here http://rhce.ruralhealth.org.au/rhce2-evaluation-report.
Gordon Gregory, NRHA 02 6285 4660