Implementing physiotherapy rural generalist training positions: practical learnings from NSW, QLD and NT supervisors

Miss Katheryn Farry1, Ms Ellen McMaster2, Ms Jane Doepel3, Ms Amy Dionysius4, Ms Shellee Latimore5, Ms Natalie Simms6, Ms Ilsa Nielsen7

1North West Hospital And Health Service, Mount Isa, Australia, 2Murrumbidgee Local Health District, , Australia, 3Torres and Cape Hospital and Health Service, , Australia, 4Cairns and Hinterland Hospital and Health Service, , Australia, 5Top End Health Service, , Australia, 6Darling Downs Hospital and Health Service, , Australia, 7Department of Health, Queensland Health, , Australia


Introduction:Health services in Queensland, New South Wales and the Northern Territory are implementing designated rural generalist training positions to address recruitment, retention and development of early career rural generalist physiotherapists, and support the sustainability and outcomes of physiotherapy services for local communities.  Supervisors from six training sites formed a network in 2017 to share experiences, learnings and strategies that support implementation.

Physiotherapy Rural Generalist Training Positions

Positions have different funding, governance and operational models. However they generally conform to the SARRAH description of “allied health rural generalist training position” role requirements.  Sites have between one and three trainees.  A service development project is implemented at each site, which the trainee contributes to.


The supervisor group have noted the rural generalist training positions:

  • have strong recruitment outcomes,
  • require training funding built into the business model,
  • benefit from local profession-specific and inter-professional rural generalist trainee cohorts to provide peer support and learning,
  • need strong local leadership to protect designated training and supervision time in busy clinical settings, and
  • stimulate service development activities that are tailored to the needs of local communities.

Peer networks are a potentially useful strategy to provide support and mentorship for the emerging role of rural generalist training supervisor.

Take-home message

Rural generalist training positions in physiotherapy services can be implemented to address workforce challenges.  Learnings from existing training sites are available to support other rural or remote teams.


Katheryn is a physiotherapist who has spent her life working in rural allied health. Undertaking the HP3-4 Rural Development Pathway prompted the growth of a passion for rural and remote allied health education and development, seeing it as a key component of quality, applicable service provision. She has been the professional supervisor for Physiotherapy Allied Health Rural Generalist Training Positions in various locations since 2014, and is currently providing support to not only three physiotherapy positions, but also a speech pathology position in conjunction with their discipline seniors in her role as Allied Health Clinical Educator at Mount Isa Hospital.

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