Archive for the ‘School of Rural Medicine’ category

Rural focus for Armidale Medical Conference (AMCON)

August 22nd, 2011

Thank you to Dr Maree Puxty from the School of Rural Medicine and her colleagues, including our new HOS of Medicine, Professor Peter McKeown for a great event.

Fifty doctors, nurses and students met at the University of New England on Saturday to discuss the latest developments in the treatment of people with heart failure, cancer, and mental illness.

With participants from around the New England and North West regions of NSW as well as from Newcastle, the third annual Armidale Medical Conference (AMCON) had an appropriately “rural medicine” focus.

The incoming Head of UNE’s School of Rural Medicine, Professor Peter McKeown, introduced the conference. Professor McKeown, who takes up his position at UNE in September, said during his visit to the University last week that his vision for the School of Rural Medicine was for it to be not only an educator of first-rate doctors, but also a catalyst for the development of Armidale as a “centre of clinical excellence” …..[more]

UNEs Collaborative Research Network program on mental health has been successful

June 1st, 2011

This CRN will be led by University of New England working with five partners, Newcastle, Sydney, La Trobe and NSW universities and Hunter New England Area Heath Service. It will expand the emerging Rural Health research strength at UNE, feeding into education of 1,400 health professionals annually. Partner institutions will extend their reach into and knowledge of rural regions. CRN activities will build links with rural communities and health providers in Northern Inland NSW and Victoria, with focus on investigating mental heath and well-being including health workforce sustainability, self-care, suicide, disabilities, sexuality, inclusion, and biomedical science supporting rural mental health.

The funding will see the recruitment of a significant number of PhD scholarship students and Postdocs working on three research themes.

A huge congratulations to a range of colleagues who worked to get this project off the ground, including Victor Minichiello, Rafat Hussain, Myf Maple, Pierre Meons, Gail Hawkes, John Scott, and many other folks. And of course our partners in the other universities.

This funding and partnership with key research intensive universities will significantly boost our research activity on a topic of national and international importance.

More information on the program can be found at:

http://minister.innovation.gov.au/Carr/MediaReleases/Pages/BUILDINGAUSTRALIASRESEARCHSTRENGTHS.aspx

Tablelands Clinical School to be built on-site at Armidale Hospital

July 22nd, 2010

The University of New England and Hunter New England Health have today announced that the Tablelands Clinical School and General Practice Training Facility will be built on the Armidale Hospital Campus.

The University of New England, as part of the Joint Medical Program with the University of Newcastle, Hunter New England Health and Northern Sydney Central Coast Health, have been successful in receiving $5.5 million dollars in Commonwealth funding, awarded under the Rural Education Infrastructure Development (REID) program to construct and fit out the Tablelands Clinical School and develop a training practice building in collaboration with the New England Division of General Practice and GP Synergy.
The Vice Chancellor of the University of New England, Professor Jim Barber, welcomed the collaboration with the Hunter New England Health.

“This project is critical for both the University and the New England community as it is likely to increase the quality of clinical training and the capacity for clinical education across our area.

“It will create a professional environment with teaching clinics for healthcare students to obtain broader experience in diagnosis, treatment and prevention of illness,” Professor Barber said.

The new facility will serve medical students enrolled in the Joint Medical Program as well as other nursing and allied health students enrolled at UNE.

It will offer a greater range of clinical experiences by allowing students to be exposed to health problems seen by GPs and those referred to the hospital.

“Particularly important is the partnership between the University and the New England Division of General Practice in developing a training practice model of national and international significance,” Professor Barber said.

Chief Executive of Hunter New England Health, Dr Nigel Lyons, welcomed the initiative, supporting the development of the clinical teaching facility on the Armidale Hospital campus.

“The Joint Medical Program partnership has helped to establish Armidale as a clinical centre of excellence, offering practical opportunities and experiences for medical students and also provides benefits nursing and allied health students,” he said.

“We are pleased to welcome the Tablelands Clinical School and General Practice Training to the Armidale Hospital Campus. This establishes a firm training ground for students, by co-locating the learning environment in close proximity to patient care.

“We look forward to working with the JMP partners to build upon the success of this model – from the facilities and buildings to the curriculum and dedicated staffing needed to make the program an ongoing success,” Dr Lyons said.

For Media enquiries, please contact Michael Kauter, UNE Media Adviser on 0429360498 or 67733872 or Kristy Waddell at Hunter New England Health on 02 49855522.

Rural Healthcare Research

January 4th, 2010

Spatial CRCThe deficiencies in rural and remote health and medical services are well documented. Distance and rural location translate into space between users, practitioners and facilities, which in turn translates into time delays, costs and significant difficulties in bringing together all of the elements needed for effective primary healthcare.  The maxim of the patient’s need for the right health professional, with the right skills being in the right place and at the right time is most clear in the rural and remote settings.  Workforce gaps, the insufficiency of general and specialist infrastructures, the impact of transport and logistics upon delivery of and outcomes from services, the effect of remoteness and rural demographics on underlying health status are but some of the challenges which have a spatial dimension.

There are many strategies and innovations that are being used or developed, but often these are not effective or not readily adopted. The School of Health and the School of Rural Medicine, working with innovation researchers from the School of Business, Economics and Public Policy, are creating a new research programme, partly supported by the CRCSI Health research theme, to identify useful innovations systematically and to improve the way in which these are translated into practice.

Led by Professor Steven Campbell with colleagues from the Schools, the proposal has attracted the keen interest of front-line health organisations in Queensland, NSW, Victoria, South Australia, the ACT and Western Australia.

The research will make four contributions.

1. To develop a practice-based comprehensive understanding of

  • the unmet or inadequately met needs of front-line practitioners and patients for data, better intelligence, and integration of intelligence with practice;
  • the forms in which such intelligence ought be delivered to fit with the needs of users; and
  • the systems and support needed to make such ‘solutions’ effective.

2. To allow front-line rural practitioners to test and collaboratively refine potential solution configurations.

3. Through this process, and through related investigations, to improve the intelligence provided to front-line rural practitioners. This involves:

  • Improving the comprehensiveness and quality of the data with emphasis on approaches that do not add to (and hopefully reduce) the administrative loads on primary health service deliverers;
  • ensuring that the data that is consolidated and analysed within various systems is reliable for decision-making at the front line; and
  • Ensuring that the pricing, use rights, timeliness and other considerations that can limit usefulness are also addressed.

4.    Identifying a framework for adoption, by addressing the matters that are important to primary health service deliverers such as

  • Easy integration of innovations into practice infrastructures and processes;
  • Coordination and collaboration across various service providers;
  • Education and support;
  • Economic and other incentives; and
  • Reduction of institutional or other impediments that could make adoption difficult.

International declaration promotes leadership in health care

November 30th, 2009

normal_une-sign-0001A declaration drafted at an international conference in Phitsanulok, Thailand, organised by the University of New England and Thailand’s Naresuan University, emphasises the importance of high-quality education and training for health service managers.

The “Phitsanulok Declaration” says that the conference – the 1st International Conference on Health Service Delivery Management – was “the first opportunity in the South-East Asia and Asia Pacific regions to emphasise the importance of leadership and health management as essential precursors to health systems working to achieve high-quality health care for all”.

“The 450 delegates from 17 countries and 14 health and education organisations recognise the importance of a revitalised primary health care system – particularly in rural areas and at the local district level,” it continues. “This requires well trained professional health managers to be effective.”

The declaration is being circulated to all the conference delegates with a request that they translate it into their own languages and distribute it as widely as possible. “The delegates to this conference seek implementation of this declaration and pledge to continue to work together and expand the collaboration on which this declaration was founded,” it says.

Dr David Briggs, a Senior Lecturer in UNE’s School of Health who was one of the conveners of the Phitsanulok conference, held in October, explained that the declaration had been drafted through a process of extensive discussion during and after the conference. It is available in its final form at: http://www.health.nu.ac.th/hdm2009/declaration.php

“The University of New England is committed to raising issues of relevance to rural communities at a global level,” said UNE’s Acting Vice-Chancellor, Professor Graham Webb. “This landmark declaration signals the importance of training health managers to meet the challenges of providing effective leadership, and for planning integrated services for populations who require health care in rural communities, where health needs are often underserviced.”

Dr Briggs is one of several UNE staff members who are acting as advisers to Naresuan University’s Centre of Expertise on Leadership in Health Management. “The South-East Asia Regional Office of the World Health Organisation (WHO) was one of the major partners in the Phitsanulok conference,” he said, “and a significant outcome of the conference is that the Naresuan University Centre is now undergoing designation as a WHO Collaborating Centre of Expertise.”

Professor Victor Minichiello, Pro Vice-Chancellor and Dean of UNE’s Faculty of The Professions, is another of UNE’s advisers to the Naresuan University Centre, and was an invited speaker at the symposium that discussed the declaration.  “The declaration is a significant step towards meeting the growing expectations of the public with regard to receiving high-quality and effective health care,” Professor Minichiello said.

“A widely-reported issue in the media is the crisis in the health care system at a global level, and the challenges that the system faces,” he continued. ”Central to this debate is the capacity of health service managers to deal with the economic context of delivering health care, and to introduce reforms in the delivery of primary health care that are innovative and forward thinking. The declaration recognises the importance of training – and of ensuring appropriate levels of qualifications – for those who work in health service management.”

Award – Rural Mental Healthcare

November 13th, 2009

The Governor of New South Wales, Her Excellency Marie Bashir AC, has recognised the University of New England’s School of Rural Medicine with an award for its research into rural mental healthcare. The award was presented to Professor Fiona Stewart on behalf of UNE’s School of Rural Medicine, and recognizes research into ways of supporting mental health practitioners, particularly those who work with children and adolescents in regional areas. Chancellor of the UNE, Dr Richard Torbay commended the research undertaken by Professor John Fraser and A/Prof. Christian Alexander . Professor Fraser said the research involved great deal of collaboration between UNE and rural GPs across rural NSW. Pro Vice-Chancellor and Dean of UNE’s Faculty of The Professions, Professor Victor Minichiello said the award demonstrates the significant impact the newly established medical school is making in the field of rural healthcare.

CRC Spatial Information Re-Bid

August 15th, 2009

The CRC for Spatial Information extension will bring rapid and powerful collaboration on all critical research and education issues that involve a spatial aspect, and create a coordinated national network of satellite system reference stations to permit real‐time positioning to two centimetre accuracy; and establish the fully functioning Australian Spatial Marketplace. UNE will be involved in two major projects:
AGRICULTURE, NATURAL RESOURCES, AND CLIMATE CHANGE: BIOMASS PROJECT
Biomass Business is a major demonstrator project within the CRC for Spatial information which aims to empower Australia’s response to climate change by transforming the way public and private land managers balance agricultural productivity and sustainability. UNE will host this major project, using its significant strength in precision agriculture research to bring together agronomists, soil scientists, sensor specialists, physicists, ecosystem scientists, plant biologists, statisticians and computer scientists. The project aims to develop spatial‐based tools to drive on‐farm improvements in water, fertiliser and pasture utilisation, and associated soil health necessary to maintain the profitability of agricultural businesses, while maximising the synergies between production and environmental accountability. The project involves 4 of Australia’s top ten corporate farmers, 8 small‐medium enterprises and three state land managers including NSW DECC, WA Land Information and Victoria DPI.
HEALTH RESEARCH THROUGH THE CRC FOR SPATIAL INFORMATION
The successful rebid for the CRC Spatial Information opens up a further opportunity for cutting‐edge rural health research, based at UNE. A joint research programme with the University of Western Australia and various collaborators with UNE targets three fundamental health challenges associated with distance. These are the challenges of workforce, matching capabilities with needs, and the additional costs due to distance. The research is predicated on the expectation that linking spatial technology with other technology and management methods can assist to deliver tangible healthcare improvement in rural areas. Whilst the details of the research are yet to be developed in consultation with our partners in the CRC, it is expected to address the role of technology (with an emphasis on spatial data) integrated with management and clinical methods to improve the effectiveness of primary healthcare networks in rural areas; better enable service delivery models in remote areas, improve the utility of health technology and datasets, and improve spatial intelligence for health service design and delivery. Industry collaborators, BSR Solutions and 43pl, have signed on in support of UNE’s bid.

Health Research through the CRC for Spatial Information

July 1st, 2009

The successful rebid for the CRC Spatial Information opens up a further opportunity for cutting-edge rural health research, based at UNE. A joint research programme with the University of Western Australia and various collaborators with UNE targets three fundamental health challenges associated with distance. These are the challenges of workforce, matching capabilities with needs, and the additional costs due to distance. The research is predicated on the expectation that linking spatial technology with other technology and management methods can assist to deliver tangible healthcare improvement in rural areas. Whilst the details of the research are yet to be developed in consultation with our partners in the CRC, it is expected to address the role of technology (with an emphasis on spatial data) integrated with management and clinical methods to improve the effectiveness of primary healthcare networks in rural areas; better enable service delivery models in remote areas, improve the utility of health technology and datasets, and improve spatial intelligence for health service design and delivery. Industry collaborators, BSR Solutions and 43pl, have signed on in support of UNE’s bid.

UNE and Naresuan University mark 5 years of collaboration

April 3rd, 2009

naresuan_5yrsThe University of New England and Naresuan University have marked five years of collaboration with an intensive research workshop at Naresuan University in Phitsanulok, Thailand.

The workshop involved doctoral public health students from the Faculty of Public Health at Naresuan University, who investigated maternal and child health services as possible topics for their PhD research. They were assisted by visits to the Din Thong Health Care Centre, Wangthong District hospital, and the Buddhachinaraj Hospital, where the students met with senior maternal and child health staff to discuss existing services.

These visits were followed by a series of lectures by Prof Mary Cruickshank from UNE on research methodology and sessions to develop the students’ research projects. The students then presented their draft proposals to the research team and to Dr Thavatchai Kamoltham of the Ministry of Public Health and Dr Veerachai Sittipiyasakul, the Director of Regional Health Promotion, Phitsanulok Province, Ministry of Public Health. Feedback from this session will allow the students to further refine their research proposal for their PhD studies.

Dr Prawit Taytiwat, dean of the Faculty of Public Health at Naresuan University, said the week-long workshop had been “an invaluable experience for students and academics alike to work closely with international colleagues.”

Dr Taytiwat, who is also an adjunct associate professor in the schools of Health and Rural Medicine at UNE went on: “This approach demonstrates the commitment of Naresuan University to develop the capacity of both its academics and students in research methods and to access international perspectives about health care delivery.”

Speaking on behalf of the UNE research team, Dr David Briggs noted that the Thai health system had made significant progress towards achieving the UN Millennium Development Goals in Maternal and Child Health.

“This provides the public health doctoral students and the research team with the opportunity to explore the organisation and management of health services with a view to how the system might be strengthened,” Dr Briggs said.

“This approach allowed students to consider how the concepts of health management delivery knowledge might be applied to traditional public health perspectives of these students and academic staff.”

Staff from the two universities will next meet at an international conference on health management service delivery in Phitsanulok in October 2009.

Complementary medicine: UNE hosts unique forum

March 16th, 2009

phelpsThe first international conference on the evidence supporting the use of complementary medicine, held at the  University of New England over the weekend, signalled a long-awaited rapprochement between the practice of complementary and orthodox medicine.

Professor Kerryn Phelps (pictured here), a former president (and first woman president) of the Australian Medical Association, delivered the opening address at the three-day conference. Professor Phelps said that, with scientific evidence as the “bridge” between orthodox and complementary practice, “we won’t be seeing so much of a ‘them’ and ‘us’ mentality, but rather a working together”. She emphasised that “it’s important for us all to work together for what’s best for patients”.

In officially opening the conference, Senator Jan McLucas, the Australian Government’s Parliamentary Secretary for Health and Ageing, said that it was being held at “an important point in the history of complementary medicine in this country”, and called for “more dialogue between practitioners of orthodox and complementary medicine”. Simon Mills, a British leader in the field, said that, at an international level, complementary medicine was now “at a crossroads”, having acquired an evidence base with the potential – finally – “to make an impact on the world of orthodox medicine”. “A conference like this will help us to move on,” he said.

More than 320 people, from around Australia and from Russia, India, the UK, Sweden, New Zealand, the United States and Malaysia, attended the International Evidence-based Complementary Medicine Conference, hosted by UNE’s School of Health and School of Rural Medicine. The conveners, UNE’s Associate Professor Kerry Bone and Dr Yoni Luxford, said that it had been not only an international forum for the presentation of exciting new research results, but also a catalyst for research collaboration and acceleration.

An important aspect of the conference was its examination of interactions between orthodox and complementary treatments. Professor Bone, who is also the Director of Research at MediHerb, said that evidence presented over the three days had helped to identify and explain both positive and negative interactions, so that positive interactions could be encouraged and negative interactions avoided. Professor Bone’s own presentation at the conference examined the safety and efficacy of complementary therapies – often used in conjunction with orthodox medicine – in the treatment of cancer.

Professor Margo Halm from the United States, whose conference presentation was a review of available knowledge on the effectiveness of essential oils such as lavandin in managing symptoms in critically ill patients, has conducted research on the use of essential oils to prevent acute skin reactions in women undergoing radiation treatment for breast cancer. Professor Halm is the Director of Nursing Research/Quality at United Hospital in St Paul, Minnesota.

Professor Frank Rosenfeldt, Head of the Cardiac Surgical Research Unit at the Alfred Hospital in Melbourne, presented the results of his research into improving the success of procedures such as cardiac bypass operations by using nutrients including antioxidants and fish oils. Professor Bone said the conference had heard about “an amazing amount of research on fish oils – including research related to brain development, the reduction of heart disease, and the treatment of inflammatory disorders”.

While a major focus of the conference was on herbal treatments, including the therapeutic effects of plants such as Echinacea and garlic and the therapeutic properties of plants used in traditional Aboriginal Australian medicine, evidence relating to the use of many other complementary therapies was reviewed.

Dr Luxford said the conference had provided a forum for “rejuvenation”, establishing networks that would enable the participants to “continue and extend their conversation about the way forward”. Professor Bone added that the conference’s generous support from the complementary medicines industry showed that “the industry is serious in promoting the accumulation of evidence in the field”.