In a recent editorial, outgoing editor, Professor Tim Skinner, questioned the outcomes of the Rural Health Multidisciplinary Training (RHMT) program for residents of Australian regional, rural and remote communities. As Directors of some of these RHMT programs, we agree with Skinner's call for better evidence to measure the impacts of University Departments of Rural Health (UDRHs), Rural Clinical Schools (RCSs), Dental Training Expanding Rural Placements (DTERP) and Regional Training Hubs (RTH)—we need quality evidence about the impact of our programs as well as the rural and remote health workforce generally. While agreeing with the call for more evidence, we disagree that there is no evidence of the impact of the RHMT program. Furthermore, there are reasons why quality evidence is still emerging and, for readers with interest in the work of the RHMT, we offer six considerations with respect to this developing evidence base.
First, dedicated commitment to developing remote health and rural health has been a relatively new endeavour, with only the first seven UDRHs established by the year 2000. This strategic approach is still building, and it seems premature to compare our research quality and outcomes to studies in other well-established disciplines. One of the goals, and indeed successes of RHMT, has been to build research capacity in rural and remote health centres. This is evidenced by an increase in peer-reviewed publications, competitive grants and the quality of research in the key rural health journals. Certainly, many of the authors of this research, as well as editors of journals such as AJRH, are, or have been, employed by a UDRH or RCS...
- Rural Health Multidisciplinary Training (RHMT) program
- Rural health
- Remote health