According to the Future Healthcare Journal, medical education doesn’t prepare young doctors for the rapidly changing medical landscape.
The current response to change is a ‘reactive and resource-intensive effort’, rather than interprofessional clinical and non-clinical training. There’s an opportunity to incorporate a philosophy and style that accommodate innovation, communication, and change – with one single educational body bridging undergraduate and postgraduate instruction.
Postgraduate medical training needs to be a flexible, responsive training curriculum for the workforce. Education needs to teach students how to adapt and encourage innovation.
Healthcare industry reforms
An ageing population, increased consumer expectations and technology is putting pressure on our healthcare system. A white paper released by the Australian College of Nursing explains the immediate need for reform. The nursing profession is not being utilised to its full potential with a more integrated, sustainable health and aged care system required.
By 2030, we could be facing a nursing shortage of 120,000 if trends continue. The aged care workforce will need to double, or possibly triple, by the year 2050 to meet the needs of the growing number of aged care residents. Healthcare roles, as we know it, need to be challenged.
Dieticians, dental hygienists, sonographers, occupational therapists, radiographers, speech therapists and mental technologists are also under-represented – yet, they’re at the frontline of the industry. These allied health professionals make up 60% of our country’s healthcare workforce.
The challenges & solutions
As Australia’s huge baby boomer population grows older, the strain on healthcare grows, and so does the need for innovative doctors and nurses.
One possible solution is to build collaborative healthcare centres. Think of it like an all-in-one medical centre that allow GPs to connect with allied health professionals and share information. Where GPs, nurses, optometrists, counsellors, physiotherapists and pharmacists come together. New technologies can be introduced in these centres, too.
At the Future of Australia’s Aged Care Sector Workforce, empowering the workforce through innovative models was a hot topic.
“New models are emerging which challenge the traditional boundaries delivered in residential care. Going forward we need a multi-skilled workforce, and any future system should not stifle innovation and must remain flexible,” General Manager of Residential Care, Ms Angela Raguz, said.
“A one-size-fits-all workforce model will deliver a one-size-fits-all aged care system – and this does not reflect changing aged care needs. Instead, innovative models, which boost staff satisfaction and outcomes should be encouraged.”
Independent & Government-run upskilling programs
There are initiatives in place that are helping to pioneer this change.
The HR+ Future Workforce Program is designed for people considering a healthcare career in rural Tasmania. Students gain insights into the unique challenges and opportunities which a rural practice or placement can offer, and explore the many pathways to a rewarding career with variety, diversity, flexibility, and unique lifestyle options. It’s facilitated through workshops and events such as how to set up a GP clinic and rural pathways.
Rural Workforce Agency Victoria (RWAV) is a non-profit, Government funded organisation improving healthcare for rural, regional and Aboriginal communities in Victoria. The focus is on recruitment, workforce support and retention of doctors, nurses, and allied health.
There’s the Nursing and Allied Health Sponsorship and Support Scheme, that facilitates the continued professional development of nurses – particularly in areas where there are shortages.
While the healthcare industry isn’t without its challenges, forward-thinking leaders are looking to implement long-term solutions.
If you’d like to learn more information about planning for the future healthcare workforce (medicine, nursing and allied health), please contact Wendy Perry at email@example.com.