Growing Our Own Rural, Remote and Aboriginal Health Workforce: Contributions made, approaches taken and lessons learnt by three rural Australian academic health departments

Publication Name

Australian Journal of Rural Health


Aims: This paper describes the investments made, approaches taken and lessons learnt by three rural Australian academic health departments engaged in the delivery of the Health Career Academy Program (HCAP). The program seeks to address the under-representation of rural, remote and Aboriginal populations within Australia's health workforce. Context: Significant resources are directed towards rural practice exposure for metropolitan health students to address workforce shortages. Fewer resources are directed towards health career strategies that focus on the earlier engagement of rural, remote and Aboriginal secondary school students, those in Years 7–10. Best practice career development principles highlight the importance of earlier engagement in the promotion of health career aspirations and in influencing secondary school student career intentions and uptake of health professions. Approach: This paper describes: delivery contexts; the theory and evidence that has informed the HCAP; program design, adaptability and scalability; program focus on priming the rural health career pipeline; program alignment to best practice career development principles; enablers and barriers confronted in program delivery, and lessons learnt to inform rural health workforce policy and resourcing. Conclusion: There is a need to invest in programs that seek to attract rural, remote and Aboriginal secondary school students to health professions if Australia is to develop a sustainable rural health workforce. A failure to invest earlier undermines opportunities to engage diverse and aspiring youth in Australia's health workforce. Program contributions, approaches and lessons learnt can inform the work of other agencies seeking to include these populations in health career initiatives.

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