Growing Agricultural Health and Medicine Graduates: course attracting rural professionals
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“Without the training, I wouldn’t have knowledge about chronic diseases and specific illnesses which occur in the rural health setting.” Dr. Mark Newell, Public Health Registrar, 2012.
Australia’s only postgraduate agricultural health and medicine unit for professionals servicing farming communities is attracting participants from across Australia.
Deakin University’s Agricultural Health and Medicine unit (HMF701) is being offered through the National Centre for Farmer Health (NCFH) in Hamilton, western Victoria, for five days from February 25 to March 1.
Like many of the programs which have emerged from the National Centre, renowned for its innovative approach to agricultural health, this unit is unique and crosses boundaries. It has been designed with improving the health of farming families and their communities at its core, and attracts professionals who work closely with those working in agriculture – not just people from health professions.
Clinical Nurse Specialist from the Children’s Ward at Alice Springs Hospital, Matt Pigram, is one of the 2013 students and said, “I was pleased to find a course that could combine my knowledge and skills from nursing and my interests in the Agricultural industry.”
According to Unit Chair and Director of the NCFH, Clinical Associate Professor Sue Brumby, the course was designed to appeal to multidisciplinary graduate-level students and professionals, “including people working in agricultural science, agribusiness, vets and rural policy, as well as doctors, nurses and other health care workers”.
Importantly, students will gain a greater understanding about what is required for effective health provision in Australia’s agricultural industries. Dr Mark Newell, was awarded a scholarship in 2012 to do the unit when he was the Public Health Registrar with the NCFH.
Before his 18 months in Hamilton Dr Newell was “very much a city-based doctor with little experience and knowledge of rural health issues”.
Dr Newell said the unit provided insights into unusual presentations seen in rural health, particularly in farmers, “Without the unit, I wouldn’t have that knowledge about chronic diseases and specific illnesses which occur in the rural health setting.”
He recommended the course to those doctors who are currently working in rural areas or considering spending time in an agricultural community.
Students will learn about the wide range of social, environmental, physical and mental factors which result in poor health outcomes, and are able to share insights and experiences from the various professions attending the course.
The five-day intensive is held at Victoria’s 2012 Regional Health Service of the Year, Western District Health Service. The curriculum ensures students learn about agricultural medical conditions, co-morbidities in rural communities and injuries. Particular subjects include respiratory health, common cancers, traumatic injuries, mental health including suicide and addiction as well as the hazards associated with chemical use.
“We know that a healthy workforce is vital for a productive agricultural industry, but through the work of the NCFH, we have learnt that farming families and their communities face poorer health outcomes than their urban counterparts. Agricultural workers have a high rate of injuries including fatalities and suffer chronic diseases at high rates.” Ms Brumby said.
The HMF701 unit can be completed as a stand-alone course, and has been accredited for professional development points through selected colleges and associations, and some health professionals will be eligible to become an AgriSafe provider. The unit is a core unit of the Graduate Certificate of Agricultural Health and Medicine.
There are currently three vacancies for the unit, which has a strict limit of 25. Contact Dr Jacqueline Cotton, Lecturer/Researcher Rural Health at NCFH on 03 5551 8585 or go to the website www.farmerhealth.org.au for further information.
For further information contact the Dr. Jacqueline Cotton firstname.lastname@example.org
or visit the NCFH website at www.farmerhealth.org.au