Investigating the hearts, lungs, brains and sleep of regional Australia: A multidisciplinary scientist training model

Mrs Megan HarbourneDonna Rudd2

1Queensland Health, Douglas, Australia  2James Cook University,Townsville,Australia 


In 2012, the Allied Health Professions Office of Queensland funded a pilot project to determine if the traditionally single-discipline trained Clinical Physiologists, could be trained in a generalist model as new graduates. This project provided a workforce pathway specific to regional service provision that has historically been difficult to recruit to.

In 2017, James Cook University implemented a Graduate Diploma based on this multidisciplinary training model to meet the workforce needs of regional Australia.

The overarching aim of the Graduate Diploma in Medical Science (Clinical Science) is to provide students with routine multi-disciplinary skills to support regional and remote workforces. This model includes an apprenticeship style clinical practice component supported by on-line educational content.

Students have been placed at Townsville, Canberra and Melbourne with host sites supporting the students through multi-disciplinary supervision and professional practice. The model adopted is a 38 week clinical placement, allowing 10 week rotations through each single discipline (Respiratory, Sleep and Cardiac); followed by multi-disciplinary placement throughout the three disciplines. The strength of this model is its application to both regional and remote workforces nationally.

The program allows students experience in three clinical science disciplines and has demonstrated anecdotally and coincidentally an improvement of clinical scientist training due to the patient journey clinical encounters. A highlight of the program is a focus on multiple, same-patient investigation referrals by medical officers (sleep tests, cardiac tests, respiratory tests) and a focus on multidisciplinary patient journeys allowing students to gain both experience and clinical learnings of inter-related physiological conditions.



Megan Harbourne is an accredited Cardiac Sonographer with more than 15 years of experience. Working with James Cook University, Megan is an Adjunct Senior Lecturer who has supported the development of the Graduate Diploma of Medical Science (Clinical Sciences). Megan’s early work with developing rural and remote workforce pathways for clinical scientists has been awarded a workforce innovation award.

Currently, Megan is the Statewide Clinical Education Program Manager in Queensland Health. In this role, she supports 15 separate allied health disciplines to develop their clinical education and clinical placements. These professions include Audiology, Exercise Physiology and Podiatry. With a particular focus on emerging workforces, Megan supports the development of clinical education and training activities within Queensland Health.

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