Rural Health Continuing Education (RHCE) is an initiative of the Committe of Presidents of Medical Colleges and the Australian Government.
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Rural Health Continuing Education (RHCE) is an
initiative of the Committee of Presidents of Medical Colleges and the Australian Government Department of Health and Ageing.

Each Specialist College contributes to the operation and management of the scheme.

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Contact Rural Health
Continuing Education (RHCE)

Email RHCE
Phone 02 9256 5419
Visit the RHCE Web Site

RHCE Stream One - out and about

Growing interest and awareness in projects that have been

funded through the RHCE Stream One Program.

Rural Health Conference in Adelaide

The RHCE Stream One Program Management Unit (PMU) was one of 55 exhibitors at the 12th National Rural Health Conference (NRHC) held in Adelaide from 6 – 10 April.

Our aim was to inform the wider rural health community of the 25 projects that have been funded through the RHCE Stream One Program to date and the resources that have been developed by the 12 eligible Specialist Medical Colleges.

Interest in the projects and resources was high, especially the on-line learning modules and Indigenous health resources.

There were approximately one thousand attendees from all over Australia and despite the large numbers, the overall feeling was one of community and collaboration.

What brought everyone together was commitment and passion for the improvement of access to and provision of, health services for people living in regional and remote parts of Australia.

There was a very full program of keynote addresses, concurrent sessions and lively discussion over the four days.

Seventeen priority recommendations were agreed upon by delegates, which fell under four themes:

• Infrastructure
• Clinical care
• Workforce issues
• The targeting of chronic disease in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander populations

The Hon Tanya Plibersek MP, Minister for Health, was present to hear an overview of these priority recommendations and gave the closing address to the conference.

For more detailed information on the conference and to view the priority recommendations visit the NRHA website.

Congratulations to the National Rural Health Alliance for a truly inspiring conference.

Caroline Higgins, RHCE Program Manager and Camille Mercep, RHCE Program Officer. Photo courtesy of NRHC photographer Penny Bradfield

Echo’ training in the Centre

Imagine being able to refine you echocardiography skills working one-on-one with an experienced echocardiographer and scanning using your own equipment in your own practice.

That was the opportunity Central Australian intensivists, emergency medicine specialists and adult physicians had in Alice Springs in February, March and April of this year.

With the support of RHCE (Stream One), Penny Stewart, Director of Intensive Care at Alice Springs Hospital, and the College of Intensive Care Medicine have developed an echocardiography familiarization and training program for rural specialists.

Alice Springs Hospital specialists worked under the watchful eye of Tony Morris, a Sydney-based echocardiographer, to enhance their skills in echocardiography. The small group sessions, ranging from interactive lectures to practical sessions involving models (usually one another!) and patients, ensured a broad range of skill and experience were accommodated. It also enabled local specialists to learn from one another and know that there was a range of local expertise they could call on in the future.

A major strength was the ability to deliver a responsive education and training experience where people worked, often travelling to the wards, emergency department or ICU to allow busy specialists to ‘fit in’ their continuing professional development needs around busy work routines.

The training Program has ensured local specialists are now more comfortable with knowing the basics of echocardiography and how it can be incorporated into the care of their patients in Central Australia. Whilst Alice Springs Hospital has resident echocardiographers and visiting cardiologists, the opportunity to develop echocardiography expertise in our local specialist work force will enhance patient care and allow resident specialists to utilize these services more effectively.

Why is this a valuable CPD opportunity for rural specialist?
 Delivered where you work – no need to spend time travelling
 Responsive and small group training - can be incorporated into existing daily schedule and accommodates a range of prior learning
 Multidisciplinary/cross-specialty – reflects realities of team-based care in rural hospitals and shared learning
 Multiple visits – allows consolidation of learning and development of skills with intervals between sessions allowing refinement and practicing of skills

Graeme Maguire
Physician, Alice Springs Hospital and member RHCE (Stream One) Project Management Committee

The Success of the Acute Neurotrauma Workshops

Since 2007 the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons (RACS) with funding from the RHCE Stream One Program, has offered nine workshops in Acute Neurotrauma.

The workshops provide training in performing burr-holes, craniectomy and craniotomy for head trauma emergencies and a foundation for improved head injury management.

Due to the urgency of the case or difficulties with patient transport, there are occasions when rural surgeons need to perform emergency procedures to relieve raised intracranial pressure to save the patient’s life or reduce neurological morbidity.

In the workshop these skills are taught using relatively inexpensive equipment, such as the Hudson Brace, which can easily be available in smaller hospitals. Participants learned to correctly evaluate whether treatment on-the-spot was needed and how to proceed after contact with a neurosurgeon. Adequate time was spent operating on cadavers until participants were comfortable with performing the procedures.

Although primarily for rural surgeons, other health care professionals, such as retrieval emergency physicians, also have found the course very valuable.

Some of the major concerns the participants had about dealing with neurotrauma before the workshops were:
• unavailability of staff to perform or assist in rural hospitals
• no confidence in performing the procedures and
• communication issues with some neurosurgical units in the emergency situation.

Workshops were offered in Adelaide, Melbourne, Brisbane and one each in Perth and Townsville, with over 150 participants gaining the skills to deal with neurotrauma cases in the rural setting. The feedback  from  the participants was excellent.

Following the success of the workshops, a series of online modules is now available, and in this I am very grateful to Professor Peter Reilly who has taken the lead in developing this complementary resource. 

A further two workshops are being offered in 2013:

  • Wed 10 July in Melbourne at RACS
  • Thurs 26 Sept at the University of Sydney

I am very grateful for the support I have received from my colleagues around Australia in facilitating these workshops and take this opportunity to thank Teresa Withers, Eric Guazzo, Lawrence Marshman, Glenn McCulloch, Marguerite Harding, Stephen Santoreneos,  Amal Abou-Hamden and Ellison Stephenson for their great contribution. They have also commented on how they have enjoyed imparting skills to their rural colleagues.

Associate Professor Marianne Vonau OAM, FRACS

Bush Track to Boulevard, Rural Update 2013

The College of Intensive Care Medicine (CICM) held the second rural update conference, funded by the RHCE Stream One Program, on February 28th – March 1st.

This year delegates were offered concurrent plenary and simulation sessions with a diverse range of speakers.  The plenary sessions  included:

• paediatric trauma and resuscitation
• ballistic trauma and
• aboriginal survival rates in the ICU.

All the simulation settings were clinical scenarios that delegates could expect to encounter in a regional or remote hospital settings.

Due to the success of last year’s paediatric simulations, the number of workshops was increased this year. Participants were exposed to a number of paediatric clinical scenarios and with the use of nursing staff and state of the art technology, they found the workshops both challenging and rewarding.

Echo sessions were also introduced into the program this year. These were hands on instruction in basic qualitative trans-thoracic echocardiography emphasising a basic level of haemodynamic assessment relevant to the critically ill. Echo vignettes using live models enabled the participants to try out and test their skills.

Over 70 delegates attended this event in the picturesque Byron Bay Resort, surrounded by the rainforest. A buffet on the spa deck by the pool allowed them to relax, catch up with colleagues and debrief on the events of the day.

All the sessions were very well received and enjoyed by both presenters and delegates. CICM is hoping to run this event annually.

Lisa Davidson
Manager, Fellowship Affairs - College of Intensive Care Medicine

Share your rural experience

Share your experience of working and in the rural, remote and regional areas.

Send us an article, a photo, or any events

If your planning to attend the RACP Future Directions Congress in Perth, be sure to visit the RHCE Stream One booth.


Australian Government Department of Health and Ageing Committee of Presidents of Medical Colleges