Report on the Audit of Health Workforce in Rural and Regional Australia
A-BAboriginal health workers (AWS): Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health workers provide clinical and primary health care for individuals, families and community groups. They deal with patients, clients and visitors to hospitals and health clinics and assist in arranging, coordinating and providing health care in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community health clinics.
Aboriginal Medical Service (AMS): Aboriginal communities operate over 130 AMSs across Australia.They range from large multi-functional services employing several medical practitioners and providing a wide range of services to small services without medical practitioners, which rely on Aboriginal health workers and/or nurses to provide the bulk of primary care services, often with a preventive, health education focus.
Allied health: For the purpose of the audit, the focus has been on those professions to be covered by the National Registration and Accreditation Scheme, namely chiropractors, optometrists, osteopaths, pharmacists, physiotherapists and psychologists.
Area of Workforce Shortage (AOWS): An Area of Workforce Shortage is one in which the community is considered to have less access to medical services than that experienced by the population in general, assessed as those areas that fall below the national average of Full-time Workload Equivalent general practitioners (FWE GPs). Inner metropolitan areas cannot be deemed an AOWS.
Australian Bureau of Statistics Census of Population and Housing (ABS Census): The Australian Census is a census of all Australian households conducted every 5 years by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS). The aim is to obtain information about every member of the Australian population. ABS Censuses were conducted in 1996, 2001 and 2006. Top of page
C-FCommunity health services: Diagnostic, therapeutic and preventative health services provided for individuals in the community, funded by the states and territories.
Enrolled nurse: A nurse who has undertaken the appropriate VET course or equivalent and is on the roll maintained by the state or territory nurses' board or nursing council to practise nursing in that state or territory.
Full-Time-Equivalent (FTE): The Full-Time-Equivalent (FTE) measure of supply is based on the total hours worked by the health professional divided by the hours in a standard working week for that profession. This varies for different professions.
For the medical workforce, as reported in Medical labour force 2005, 45 total hours per week is equivalent to one FTE.
For nurses, both FTE of 35 total hours per week and 38 total hours per week have been reported in the Nursing and Midwifery Labour Force Survey 2005. The latter has been included for the first time in the reports, for consistency with state and territory data, as most states and territories have adopted the 38 hour week as standard in agreements for nurses.
Full-time Work Equivalent (FWE): FWE is a measure of service provision that takes into account doctors' carrying workloads. It is generally considered to provide a good overall indicator of medical workforce supply. FWE is calculated by dividing each doctor's Medicare billing by the average billing of full time doctors for the reference period. Top of page
G-LGeneral practitioner (GP): A registered medical practitioner who is qualified and competent for general practice in Australia. A general practitioner has the skills and experience to provide whole person, comprehensive, coordinated and continuing medical care and maintains professional competence for general practice.
Health Workforce Taskforce: An Australian Government/state body established following the July 2006 decision by the Council of Australian Governments to establish a Taskforce on the national health workforce. The Taskforce is undertaking project-based work and it works to the Health Workforce Principle Committee, a subcommittee of the Australian Health Ministers' Advisory Council.
Higher Education Contribution Scheme (HECS): The scheme aims to promote careers in rural medicine and increase the number of doctors in rural and regional areas in the longer term. Participants in the scheme, who undertake training or provide medical services in designated rural and remote areas of Australia, have one fifth of their HECS fees reimbursed for each year of service in rural and remote areas.
International medical graduate (IMG): Refer to Overseas Trained Doctor. Top of page
M-OMedical specialist: A doctor whose specialist qualifications are awarded or recognised by the relevant specialist medical college in Australia.
Medicare Benefits: Includes all benefits for private medical services paid under the Medicare Benefits Schedule.
Nurse Practitioner: A registered nurse with advanced educational preparation and experience, who is authorised to practise in an expanded nursing role. Nurse practitioners can work in a diverse range of clinical settings from acute hospitals to aged care and community settings.
In addition to further education and advanced clinical practice, nurse practitioners have developed the skills and knowledge to expand their role to include aspects of care, such as prescribing medicines and ordering and interpreting investigations and tests that may have traditionally been performed by other health professionals.
Overseas Trained Doctor (OTD): A doctor whose basic medical qualifications and/or specialist qualifications were acquired in a country other than Australia. Top of page
P-QPostgraduate Year 1 (PGY1): The year of supervised clinical training completed by graduates of an Australian Medical Council (AMC) accredited medical school. Also known as an intern year.
Postgraduate Year 2 (PGY2): The year of structured rotations through supervised clinical training placements, mostly in public hospitals, completed once medical practitioners have finished their internship and gained general medical registration. Also known as First Resident Medical Officer year.
Physician assistant: Health professionals trained to diagnose, prescribe medication and treat patients under the supervision of a medical practitioner. Top of page
RRegistered nurse: A nurse with at least a three year training certificate and nurses holding post graduate qualifications. Registered nurses must be registered with the state/territory registration board.
Relocation Incentive Grants for Outer Metropolitan Practice: The Relocation Incentive Grant was introduced in 2003-04 to encourage doctors to work in outer-metropolitan practices. Grants are payable to doctors who relate to an existing outer-metropolitan practice or to set up a new practice in an outer metropolitan location.
Remoteness Area (RA): The Remoteness Area structure within the Australian Bureau of Statistic's Australian Standard Geographical Classification breaks down geographical regions into five categories: major cities, inner regional, outer regional, remote and very remote. It is updated to take into account factors such as new road networks, new area boundaries and actual services provided through centres.
Rural, Remote and Metropolitan Areas (RRMA): The Rural, Remote and Metropolitan Areas (RRMA) classification was developed in 1994 by the Department of Primary Industries and Energy, and the then Department of Human Services and Health and breaks down geographical areas into metropolitan, rural and remote areas. It should be noted that this measure has not been updated and continues to be based on the SLA boundaries and population of the ABS 1991 Census.
Rural Clinical Schools: Rural Clinical Schools provide teaching and clinical practice sites for students of medicine. They are considered a part of a university's medical school and are located in a rural area. Top of page
S-TSection 19AB: Section 19AB of the Health Insurance Act 1973 places restrictions on the areas in which overseas trained doctors may work in private practice. This section of the Act requires overseas trained doctors to work in an Area of Workforce Shortage for a period of up to ten years. It applies to both GPs and specialists.
Specialist Obstetrician Locum Scheme (SOLS): The Program provides locum relief to rural obstetricians through subsidised locum support for 14 days and an optional additional 2 weeks of unsubsidised support. This allows rural obstetricians to take personal leave or undertake professional development.
Statistical Local Area (SLA): The smallest spatial unit or level of geography contained in the Australian Standard Geographical Classification (ASGC). SLAs cover Australia without gaps or overlaps.
The Australian Standard Geographical Classification (ASGC) is a hierarchical classification system of geographical areas and consists of a number of interrelated structures. It provides a common framework of statistical geography and enables the production of statistics which are comparable.
There are 1,426 SLAs covering Australia under the ASGC used for the ABS 2006 Census. Top of page
U-ZUniversity Departments of Rural Health (UDRH): University Departments of Rural Health are located in rural areas and provide clinical placements and training for medical, nursing and allied health students. They also offer education, support and research opportunities for health service providers in the local area. They are often collaborative enterprises involving more than one university.
Vocational Education and Training (VET) sector: Vocational Education and Training (VET) is available in the areas of dental, aged care, pharmacy, mental health, nursing and allied health.
Health occupations trained within the VET sector include: enrolled nurses, allied health assistants for direct client care and technical assistance and personal care workers.