For the past five years the NRHA has been managing Stream 2 of the Rural Health Continuing Education program (RHCE2) on behalf of the Australian Department of Health. In this time 119 projects have been supported, involving over 8,500 health professionals in all.
The program has been highly valued by practitioners in rural and remote areas and has resulted in a range of digital and hard copy CPD resources for rural practitioners, including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Workers and allied health professionals in particular.
It has also provided the NRHA with better understanding of ways in which the provision of CPD in rural and remote areas can be successfully completed.
Sadly, RHCE2 is in its last year of operation. The NRHA has consulted with key stakeholders in each jurisdiction at one-day roundtables to transfer information on and knowledge about the program's outcomes and resources to those who will be responsible for providing CPD in the future, potentially including the rural PHNs.
The meetings and networking have confirmed the need for some rationalisation of information, perhaps through an online portal, on the availability of CPD, by time, location, topic, accreditation status and target audience.
Another well-supported proposal is the idea of a national network of CPD organisations and individuals.
These proposals are being pursued by the NRHA and are well aligned with key Government priorities and processes, including its efforts to address health workforce maldistribution and reform, and the promotion of more integrated, multi-disciplinary care and inter-professional learning.
The health and social assistance workforce is projected to remain the fastest growing workforce sector nationally. Making sure that targeted, tailored and accredited CPD is available to members of that workforce in rural and remote areas will help with recruitment and retention and play a significant role in securing a better distribution across country areas.
Wendy Downs, Manager, RHCE2