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Growing opportunities in rural and remote health

25-06-2020 Category: General Posted by: emily.roberts

Photo: Nikki Murray, Marathon Health Occupational Therapist, conducting a virtual equipment prescription

A recent report by the National Rural Health Commissioner has proposed ways to address rural health inadequacies through investment in local allied health services, training and opportunities.

As the largest non-government employer of allied health staff in Western NSW, Marathon Health welcomes the report, which aligns well with the not-for-profits student placement program that develops employment pathways for allied health graduates to live and work in rural NSW.

Jenief Cornish, Marathon Health Portfolio Manager of NDIS services, says the report is welcome news for local communities.

“We’ve found that students often forego opportunities for placements in rural and remote communities for a range of reasons usually related to distance. If students miss out on the opportunity to experience life and work in these areas, we miss the chance to show them the benefits of rural living,” Ms Cornish said.

Many rural communities are unable to host allied health students due to the lack of suitably-experienced allied health professionals needed to provide clinical supervision.

“The report acts as the first step to creating integrated services and training pathways locally, with a ‘grow your own’ system that retains people of rural origin,” Ms Cornish said.

Marathon Health’s innovative student placement program has grown significantly over the last two years, and even during the COVID-19 shut down period, six students completed fully virtual placements.

Samantha Smith based in Melbourne, completed a virtual Occupational Therapy placement with the charity in June.

“My placement has been, by far, the most well round and truly enriching experience. It has given me the opportunity and confidence to use my skills, enabling me to be excited about the future prospects in my career,” Ms Smith said.

The use of telehealth to train future clinicians has become embedded practice during COVID-19 and will continue in the future, according to Ms Cornish.

“We ensure our clinicians are able to supervise students via telehealth, so we can offer placements in remote communities and continue to grow the allied health services of country communities,” Ms Cornish said.

View the National Rural Health Commissioner’s full report here.

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