How does the Allied Health Rural Generalist Training Pathway affect chronic workforce challenges in western New South Wales?

Mrs Ellen McMaster1, Mrs Catherine Maloney1, Mrs Emily Farquhar1, Mrs Katrina Walsh1, Miss Annie Nichols1

1Murrumbidgee Local Health District, Griffith, Australia


Murrumbidgee Local Health District (MLHD) in south-west New South Wales is participating in a national partnership facilitated by Services to Australian Rural and Remote Allied Health (SARRAH) to implement an Allied Health Rural Generalist Pathway (AHRGP) originally developed by Queensland Health.

The AHRGP was adopted to address chronic workforce gaps in three rural hospitals in MLHD. Three existing senior physiotherapy positions were regraded to Level 1 positions and a senior physiotherapist was recruited to provide supervision and support to the trainees across a wide geographic area. The sites are classified as inner regional centres  and provide outreach to four other communities. Key areas the pathway focuses on are professional development, local service development, working with Allied Health Assistants and using technology to facilitate supervision and physiotherapy services. Data from three sources was analysed. Sources included interviews with the early career physiotherapists, analysis of the development of the physiotherapy service and a survey of the managers involved with these staff. Despite unplanned staff changes during the first twelve months, all three sites have sustained a physiotherapy service with minimal gaps at staff changeovers. The range of services available for patient care has increased as services stabilise. This paper shares our learning and results to date in this changing health landscape.


Ellen has worked in rural and remote health for 27 years and is currently the senior physiotherapist on the Rural Generalist Training Pathway in Murrumbidgee Local Health District. Ellen acknowledges the land on which she lives and works is part of the country of the traditional custodians , the Wiradjuri people.
Ellen has been involved in agriculture with her family all her life and her greatest achievement is her three sons – a physio, a teacher and a med student.
Ellen is an active member of SARRAH, currently the Physiotherapy Network Coordinator and is passionate about making a difference in rural health.

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