Barriers to advanced education for Indigenous Australian health workers: an exploratory study

Felton-Busch, C.M., Solomon, S.D, McBain, K.E., and De La Rue, S. (2009) Barriers to advanced education for Indigenous Australian health workers: an exploratory study. Education for Health: change in learning and practice, 22 (2). pp. 1-7.

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Introduction: Aboriginal Health Workers (AHWs) play a crucial role in the delivery of primary health care services in underserved rural and remote communities throughout Australia. The Mount Isa Centre for Rural and Remote Health (MICRRH), in Northwest Queensland, Australia, has been involved in training AHWs since 2001. During this time, it has been observed that while there has been interest in pursuing further education in other health careers, the uptake for advanced study by AHWs has been minimal. This exploratory study was designed to assess the career aspirations of local AHWs (both qualified and students) as well as community stakeholder views to identify barriers experienced when undertaking advanced education.

Methods: The study used a descriptive and exploratory design. AHWs and key stakeholders were invited to participate. Open ended interviews were undertaken with nine participants in two communities in the Mount Isa Health Service District in Northwest Queensland, Australia.

Findings: While there was some interest expressed in careers like medicine and nursing, the majority of participants indicated a preference for advancement to management or specialist areas as AHWs. In relation to the barriers faced by AHWs and students in continuing study or career advancement, three main themes emerged: support; infrastructure; and promotion.

Item ID: 11037
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1357-6283
Keywords: Aboriginal health workers; recruitment and retention; Indigenous health; barriers to education
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Date Deposited: 14 May 2010 04:30
FoR Codes: 11 MEDICAL AND HEALTH SCIENCES > 1117 Public Health and Health Services > 111701 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health @ 80%
13 EDUCATION > 1302 Curriculum and Pedagogy > 130213 Vocational Education and Training Curriculum and Pedagogy @ 20%
SEO Codes: 92 HEALTH > 9203 Indigenous Health > 920399 Indigenous Health not elsewhere classified @ 100%
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