Six Australian universities have joined hands to conduct the largest study of employment outcomes for nursing and allied health graduates.
The study, which first began in 2017 as a partnership between Monash University and the University of Newcastle, now brings together a national collaboration of Deakin University, the University of Newcastle, Monash University, The University of Queensland, University of Southern Queensland, and University of South Australia.
According to a statement, the Nursing and Allied Health Graduate Outcome Tracking (NAHGOT) study will follow thousands of nurses and allied health professionals for ten years post-graduation. This will give NAHGOT researchers the most comprehensive picture of Australian workplace trends in the nursing and allied healthcare sectors.
“It is particularly focused on the factors that influence the choice of work location and what changes are needed to solve the ongoing problem of nurse and allied health professional shortages in regional, rural and remote areas.”
Dr Keith Sutton from Monash Rural Health said the NAHGOT study would contribute to the broader health workforce.
“We expect as the project matures the insights will become a major contributor to workforce planning and augment established efforts in medicine. We’ve established a framework that allows for future expansion of the NAHGOT study to include other institutions.”
The six universities expect to add more than 7,000 students to the study each year, with the intention of tracking graduate outcomes for 10 years post-registration.
This will be done primarily by linking practice location data from the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency with university administrative records. It will also be complemented by the national Student Experience Survey and Graduate Outcomes Survey.
Professor Vin Versace, Director of Deakin Rural Health and inaugural Chair of the NAHGOT Steering Committee, said in a statement that universities are the logical choice to undertake tracking of graduate outcomes at scale. Professor Versace said:
“Unlike other data custodians, universities hold admission and professional placement data not available elsewhere – this is key to understanding the type of graduate that is most likely to live and work in a rural location once they complete their training.”
Dr Martin Jones from the University of South Australia said that in Australia, and other countries, evaluations of rural health workforce programs aimed at increasing the numbers of nursing and allied health care professionals have been over short periods and not completed at scale.
Southern Queensland Rural Health’s (SQRH) Associate Professor Geoff Argus said NAHGOT was the only large-scale study of its kind focusing on Australian nursing, midwifery, and allied health graduates and the factors that lead to rural practice.
Associate Professor Leanne Brown from the University of Newcastle Department of Rural Health said that universities are “also keen to understand how our rural programs may influence students to return to rural and rural practice both in the short and longer term.”
University of Southern Queensland public health researcher and Senior Associate Dean (Academic Transformation) Professor Marion Gray said universities played an important role in contributing to the wellbeing of health services in regional and remote Australia.
“Health services are the lifeblood of regional and remote Australia and through the NAHGOT project we hope to continue to support this essential work.”
National Rural Health Commissioner Professor Ruth Stewart said she was excited to see the development of the plan to track Nursing and Allied Health Graduate Outcomes.
“When we have a better understanding of these things, we can tailor our programs to ensure that we are training the health workforce that our communities need.”
All NAHGOT participating universities are funded by the Rural Health Multidisciplinary Training (RHMT) program, with the study design reflecting the objectives of the Commonwealth Department of Health.