Health Workforce and Education


2022 – 2023

Impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on rural and remote clinical training

Staff: Dr Jodie Bailie

Collaborators:  This research project is a collaboration of several University Departments of Rural Health from across Australia, supported by the Australian Rural Health Education Network.


2022 – 2023

Identifying features of high-quality health student placements in regional, rural, and remote Australia

This research aims to investigate the determinants of high-quality health student placements in regional, rural, and remote Australia from the perspective of university employees.

Staff: Dr Jodie Bailie

Collaborators: This research project is a collaboration of several University Departments of Rural Health from across Australia, supported by the Australian Rural Health Education Network.


2022 – 2023

Supporting medical students on placement during and after a weather-related event

Staff: Dr Jodie Bailie

Collaborators: University of Sydney (Professor Karen Scott); Western Sydney University (Krista Reed)


2022 – 2023

Collaboration and knowledge generation from a 20-year rural research centre: a co-authorship network analysis

Staff: Dr Jodie Bailie, Professor Megan Passey, Professor Ross Bailie


2017- ongoing

Western Sydney University Rural Student Tracking

Staff:  Dr Jodie Bailie

Collaborators: Western Sydney University (Dr Jannine Bailey, Caroline Robertson, Jane Thompson, Bronwyn Bauer, Dr Tim McCrossin)



Piloting Measures of Student Clinical Placement Quality to Improve Student Learning Experiences

Staff: Dr Jo Longman, Dr Sabrina Pit, A/Professor Lindy Swain,

Collaborators: University of Sydney (Prof Lindy McAllister (Lead), A/Prof Lorainne Smith; Dr Kate Thomson Kate; Dr Matthew Jennings.)



Can the Work Ability model provide a useful explanatory framework to understand sustainable employability amongst General Practitioners? A qualitative study .

Staff: Dr Sabrina Pit


University of Wollongong, (Dr Jasmyn Smyth)



Sustainable Employability: The Development of a Comprehensive Framework.

Staff: Dr Sabrina Pit

There is an increased interest to study sustainable employability (SE) due to ageing populations and changing work environments. There are several theories and models that explain certain aspects of work and employability. However, there is a paucity of comprehensive frameworks that incorporate all elements of sustainable employability. This study aimed to distinguish the major elements of sustainable employability and to structure these elements into a multi-dimensional framework. This framework will help summarise, organise and explain the large quantities of concepts within sustainable employability.

A multi-dimensional framework of SE was developed consisting of the following main levels: person, occupational networks, work, organisation, career, labour market, macro factors and proxy outcome measures. Each level consists of sub-concepts. Participants (n=49) were health and well-being, business, education and training, human resources, entrepreneurs, and sustainable employability experts and came from various countries. On average, the highest ‘keep’ rates were found on organisational and career level. The full model will be shown.

This new framework is an inventory of the concept SE. It adds complexity, additional concepts, depth and details to existing models. Policy makers, researchers, business owners, organisations and individuals could use this framework to get a deeper understanding of sustainable employability. The framework may assist in identifying which elements can be used to evaluate or promote sustainable employability on personal, job, team, organisational, regional or national level and form the basis for a measurement tool.


Saxion University of Applied Sciences, The Netherlands: (Eline Rougoor)



Towards sustainable employability in health care: a systematic review of the effectiveness of interventions

Staff: Dr Sabrina Pit

Most industrialised countries face the challenge of needing to increase workforce participation, particularly among people over 50 years. To date, there has been no systematic review that has examined the effectiveness of different interventions on sustainable employability amongst health care personnel. Policy makers, researchers and experts in work, health and safety will be able to use demonstrated effective strategies to promote sustainable employability in health care personnel.


Dr Suzan Robroek, Occupational Health, Department of Public Health, Erasmus Medical Centre, Rotterdam, The Netherlands.


International Research Collaboration Award, University of Sydney $8900.


Self-efficacy reduces the impact of social isolation on medical student’s rural career intent. Human Resources for Health.  Data Analyses of FRAME data.

Staff: Dr Sabrina Pit


Flinders University (Dr Vivian Isaac), UNSW (Professor Craig McLauchlan)



Ruralisation of Students’ Horizons: Insights into Australian Health Professional Students’ Rural and Remote Placements. Australian Rural Health Education Network qualitative data analyses.

Staff: Dr Sabrina Pit, Frances Barraclough


University of Newcastle (Professor Tony Smith), University of Tasmania  (Cross, Merilyn), Monash University  (Dr Susan Waller, Helen Chambers, Dr Keith Sutton), Flinders University (Annie Farthing, Jessie Anderson), University of South Australia (Kuda Muyambi), James Cook University (Stephanie King).



An evaluation of existing vertically integrated training practices at North Coast General Practice Training

Staff involved: Dr Sabrina Pit; Professor Lesley Barclay

The numbers of learners seeking placements in general practice is rapidly increasing as an ageing workforce impacts on General Practitioner availability. The traditional master-apprentice model that involves one-to-one teaching is therefore leading to supervision capacity constraints. Vertically integrated (VI) models may provide a solution. Shared learning, in which multiple levels of learners are taught together in the same session, is one such model.

Policy makers, medical educators and GP training providers need to ensure that quality learning outcomes are achieved for all levels of learners. A mixture of one-to-one and shared learning would address the benefits and downsides of each model, thereby maximising learners’ learning outcomes and experiences.


North Coast GP Training (Lead). Dr Thea van de Mortel (lead), Dr Peter Silberberg, Dr Christine Ahern.


GP Education and Training $195,840



Intention to stay and intention to leave: Are they two sides of the same coin? A cross sectional structural equation modeling study among health and social care workers

Staff: Dr Sabrina Pit

“Intention to leave” (ITL) has been used interchangeably with the more positive construct “intention to stay” (ITS) by human resource practitioners and researchers. The objectives were: (i) to test whether these constructs were similar measures of the same construct, and (ii) to assess the strength of the relationship between ITL and ITS with work-related outcomes.

This is the first study amongst British health and social care workers that has demonstrated that ITS and ITL are not measuring the same constructs. While there is overlap, care should be taken when using these constructs interchangeably, particularly when measuring these concepts in organizations and when developing retention programs, policies, or activities to modify ITS and ITL.


Southern Cross University (Professor Susan Nancarrow, Dr Joanne Bradbury), University of Sheffield (Dr Steven Ariss)


Southern Cross University



The effectiveness of recruitment strategies on general practitioners’ survey response rates – a systematic review.

Staff: Dr Sabrina Pit

Low survey response rates in general practice are common and lead to loss of power, selection bias, unexpected budgetary constraints and time delays in research projects. By conducting a systematic review, this project sought to assess the effectiveness of recruitment strategies aimed at increasing survey response rates among GPs.

GP survey response rates may improve by using the following strategies: monetary and non-monetary incentives, larger incentives, upfront monetary incentives, postal surveys, pre-contact with a phone call from a peer, personalised packages, sending mail on Fridays, and using registered mail. Mail pre-contact may also improve response rates and have low costs. Improved reporting and further trials, including sequential mixed mode trials and social media, are required to determine the effectiveness of recruitment strategies on GPs’ response rates to surveys.


Ms Tham Vo, Dr Sagun Pyakurel,


Primary Health Care Research, Evaluation and Development



A small unconditional non-financial incentive suggests an increase in survey response rates amongst older General Practitioners (GPs): a randomised controlled trial.

Staff: Dr Sabrina Pit; Ms Vibeke Hansen.

This study assessed the effectiveness of offering a small unconditional non-financial incentive to increase survey response rates amongst GPs within a randomised controlled trial. GPs were randomised to receive an attractive pen or no pen during their first invitation for participation in a survey. GPs could elect to complete the survey online or via mail.

This study did not find a statistically significant effect of a small, unconditional, non-financial incentive (in the form of a pen) on survey response rates. No GPs completed the online version. A small unconditional non-financial incentive, in the form of a pen, may improve response rates for GPs.


Northern Rivers GP Network (Dr Dan Ewald)


Sydney Medical School Early Career Researcher & New Staff Grant Scheme. Prolonging working life amongst rural older GPs: developing strategies and instruments $22,000



Drivers, barriers and facilitators of Allied Health students undertaking rural clinical placements in Australia: Results of an E-survey

Staff involved: Sheila Keane

International research shows conclusively that students undertaking rural clinical placements are more likely to pursue rural practice after graduation. This is important to address the chronic rural workforce shortages in the Allied Health professions.

This study surveyed 219 Allied Health students, 125 clinical supervisors and 13 university clinical placement officers to determine what might motivate students to elect to take up a rural placement, and to assess the benefits and feasibility of sustaining rural placements where there is a shortage of clinical supervisors.

Despite the challenges to supervision, students benefited from the broad exposure to different conditions typical of rural practice and gained personal confidence as well as enhanced clinical skills. Stud ents who had undertaken a rural placement were 1.64 times more likely to intend to work in a rural or remote area than students who had not done so. Given the shortage of AHPs available for student supervision, additional work is needed to identify ways of making rural placements more available and sustainable.


Southern Cross University, Services for Australian Rural and Remote Allied Health (SARRAH)


NSW Health Education and Training Institute (HETI) $100,000



Stakeholders’ views on shared learning models in General Practice: a national survey

Staff: Dr Sabrina Pit

Rising numbers of medical students, Prevocational General Practice Placements Program (PGPPP) trainees and GP registrars requiring general practice placements, coupled with regional workforce shortages, have created time and financial impacts on Australian General Practitioner (GP) supervisors.

Vertically integrated (VI) education/training is a potential solution to capacity constraints. One of the ways in which VI can occur is through the teaching of multiple levels of learner together in shared education sessions (shared learning). This study examined via a national survey of multiple stakeholders how a shared learning model of teaching in general practice may affect GP training capacity in Australia.

A national anonymous online survey of GP supervisors, GP registrars, Prevocational General Practice Placement Program trainees), and medical students was conducted in Australia in 2012-13. The study measured items such as shared learning activities, barriers and facilitators, level of support from key stakeholders.


North Coast GP Training (Lead). Dr Thea van de Mortel (lead), Dr Peter Silberberg, Dr Christine Ahern.


Health Workforce Australia



Healthy Kyogle – a student service learning project

Staff involved: Sheila Keane

In 2009 Health Workforce Australia was funded by the Australian Government to address a national health workforce shortage, including training more students to enter the health professions. Research has shown that rural placements increase the likelihood that students will take up rural practice on graduation, but the increase in student numbers has put pressure on already limited availability of rural clinical training placements.

This research project explored the feasibility of establishing a new Occupational Therapy (OT) student service learning placement in a small rural community where no OT services currently existed.


Southern Cross University, Northern NSW Local Health District


NSW Interdisciplinary Clinical Training Network (ICTN) $79,469



Nurse Practitioner Led Services in Primary Health Care in Rural NSW – Two Case Studies

Staff Involved: Ms Frances Barraclough; Professor Lesley Barclay; Dr Jo Longman

The latest figures in the second Australian Nurse Practitioner (NP) census by Middleton, Gardner G, Gardner A and Della (2009) showed twelve of 208 working NPs were located in primary health care settings in Australia (Middleton et al, 2011, 451). The majority of NPs were employed in metropolitan areas. Few previous studies describe NP roles in detail, or in rural primary health care settings.

This study described in detail the roles of two NPs in rural primary health care settings in NSW. One NP specialised in the delivery of an integrated mental health service and the other on leadership in aged care.

The case studies of these two NPs offer an in-depth description of why and how these roles were established, what the NPs do, and what impact they had within the context of small rural towns. The study provided valuable information on how best to incorporate NPs into these types of settings.



Prolonging working life amongst rural older GPs: developing strategies and instruments

Staff: Dr Sabrina Pit; Ms Vibeke Hansen; Professor Lesley Barclay

The rural Australian environment is facing a potential crisis in the supply and retention of GPs, and this is compounded by an aging and earlier-retiring workforce compared with metropolitan areas. The objective of this study was to explore the most important retention factors in a sample of older rural GPs.

Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 16 rural GPs practising in the NSW Northern Rivers region. A survey was also conducted to measure demographics, work-related, occupational health, and health and lifestyle behaviours amongst GPs.

From a health policy reform perspective, the greatest impact on reducing early retirement intentions among ageing GPs could potentially be made by intervening in areas of working hours, burnout and work-related sleep issues, followed by job satisfaction, psychological distress, health, general workability and mental and physical work ability.

Through consultation with older rural GPs, insights were gained into how to develop and implement effective retention strategies by identifying those factors which are amenable to intervention at either the personal, practice, local or legislative level. A set of potential solutions were proposed are instrumental in keeping valued Australian rural GPs happily working for longer.


Northern Rivers GP Network, Dr Peter Honeyman, Dr Dan Ewald.


Sydney Medical School Early Career Researcher & New Staff Grant Scheme. $22,000.

University Centre for Rural Health $8,000



Online Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT) training for rural mental health professionals

Staff involved: Associate Professor James Bennett-Levy; Mr Jem Mills; Ms Helen Perry

Distance from metropolitan centres, and the cost and lack of training opportunities represent significant barriers for rural health mental health professionals to enhance their therapy skills. Online CBT training shows promise as a viable way to address these issues and provide training in the workplace.

This study investigated whether providing fortnightly professional support for 15 minutes during a 12-week online program might enhance the effectiveness of online training. The study, published in Australian Psychologist (2012) found no difference in reported skills benefits in the supported and unsupported conditions, but significantly higher program completion rates in the supported condition.


James Cook University, Northumberland NHS Trust (UK)


Department of Health and Ageing $38,000



Factors affecting the recruitment and retention of Allied Health Professionals in rural New South Wales

Staff involved: Dr Sheila Keane

Allied Health Professionals (AHPs) make a valuable contribution to health care through diagnostic and preventive services as well as delivering therapies ranging from speech therapy for children with autism to physiotherapy to help keep elderly people out of hospital. Yet there is a shortage of AHPs in rural Australia, and a consequent need to understand how to attract and retain them in rural practice.

Our research surveyed nearly 2,000 AHPs working in rural NSW and interviewed groups of AHPs across the state to determine their work preferences and motivations. We found that working rurally was regarded as attractive for its broad scope of practice, and that AHPs liked rural lifestyles, but were troubled by their professional isolation and limited access to professional development. Motivations also differed depending on their career stage.

This research is being used to influence health policy, for example through providing expert testimony to the 2012 Senate inquiry on ‘The factors affecting the supply of health services and medical professionals in rural areas’. Current UCRH Allied Health workforce research follows on from this work and aims to refine our understanding of how to recruit and retain rural AHPs, and to bring the findings to the attention of health managers and policy makers in order to improve access to important allied health services in rural areas.


University of Newcastle, University of Tasmania, Flinders University, Services for Australian Rural and Remote Allied Health (SARRAH)


NSW Institute of Rural Clinical Services & Teaching $27,820



Ageing well and productively: pathways to healthy workforce participation and care giving and the impact of medications and health care on healthy workforce involvement and care giving

Staff: Dr Sabrina Pit; Dr Megan Passey

This four-year fellowship looked at healthy workforce participation amongst the ageing population.

Collaborators: University of Newcastle (Professor Julie Byles), NHMRC Clinical Trials Centre (Professor Deborah Schofield, Dr Rupendra Shrestha)

Funding: NHMRC Early Career Fellowship $139,500