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A Multidisciplinary Model of Rural Allied Health Clinical-Academic Practice: A Case Study

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The provision of high-quality health care to rural and remote populations requires recruitment and retention initiatives that target the allied health professions as well as medicine and nursing. This report describes a model of discipline-specific rural allied health practice that has been established in the Northern New South Wales University Department of Rural Health in Tamworth, Australia. Allied health academic staff members have been appointed in nutrition and dietetics, occupational therapy, diagnostic radiography, physiotherapy, and pharmacy. The appointees are required to teach in programs managed by the University of Newcastle's Faculty of Health, develop and support continuing education opportunities for their professional colleagues, conduct and supervise research, and perform clinical practice in their field. The positions thus integrate both clinical and academic roles. The integration of roles has been successful in increasing the number and quality of student placements by close collaboration with local clinicians. Overlapping of the clinical, research, and education roles has also encouraged clinicians' involvement in research and further education and generally promoted collaboration across the health service and tertiary education sectors in the region. The integrated model of allied health clinical-academic practice has been effective in helping the University Department of Rural Health achieve its objectives. The model has great potential to promote collaboration and partnership between health service and academic institutions. Extending the model to other allied health disciplines and other regions could help to improve recruitment and retention.

Document Type: Commentary

Publication date: December 1, 2009

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  • The Journal of Allied Health is the official publication of the Association of Schools of Allied Health Professions (ASAHP). The Journal is the only interdisciplinary allied health periodical, publishing scholarly works related to research and development, feature articles, research abstracts and book reviews. Readers of the Journal comprise allied health leaders, educators, faculty and students.
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