La Trobe University has joined forces with a local health provider to provide an innovative approach to boosting the rural health workforce on Eyre Peninsula.
The university’s Rural Health School has introduced a new industry collaboration that allows them to deliver intensive rural oral healthcare education in Streaky Bay and Wudinna.
La Trobe Rural Health School has collaborated with Jeanie, a rural health consultancy company that has developed the Rural Areas Experience program.
The program combines the elements of student clinical placement with a highly intensive and immersive field trip experience.
“At La Trobe University, we are constantly thinking about how we can deliver a more valuable educational experience compared to the best practice in universities all around the world,” discipline lead of oral health sciences at the La Trobe Rural Health School Dr Ron Knevel said.
“The collaboration with Jeanie and the Eyre Peninsula resulted in an exciting new initiative.”
The program included final-year oral health students spending two weeks on Eyre Peninsula, visiting Streaky Bay and Wudinna dental clinics, and taking part in several interactive sessions with other rural and allied health professionals, as part of their university training.
The Rural Area Experience allows students to practice social engagement and leadership skills by directly engaging with the community, and learning first-hand how multi-disciplinary health teams operate in rural areas.
They also have the opportunity to experience a unique part of South Australia.
“They are enjoying things we accept as normal about living in our communities, and we’ve also introduced them to unique experiences in our area like the Baird Bay Eco Tour and going to the Streaky Bay Races,” Jeanie chief executive officer Dr Cindy Dennis said.
Jeanie, who developed and delivers the program, brings local knowledge and a team of experienced facilitators to create this immersive rural health experience.
“La Trobe Rural Health school is dedicated to providing students first-class education in health sciences and we were very cognisant of that as we developed this initiative,” Dr Dennis said.
“The students are developing relationships with other health professionals, private practices and community, which provides rich learning opportunities.”
The Streaky Bay and Wudinna communities have rallied around the concept.
“Addressing the general rural health workforce shortage at the undergraduate level is essential to help re-create the future for our regional areas,” Wudinna mayor Eleanor Scholz said.