A successful longitudinal graduate tracking system for monitoring Australian medical school graduate outcomes
Citation: Woolley T, Hays R, Barnwell S, Sen Gupta T, McCloskey T. A successful longitudinal graduate tracking system for monitoring Australian medical school graduate outcomes. Rural and Remote Health (Internet) 2015; 15: 3542. Available: http://www.rrh.org.au/articles/subviewnew.asp?ArticleID=3542 (Accessed 18 October 2017)
Context: Maintaining an adequate health workforce in rural and remote Australia is challenging. The Australian Government has addressed this challenge by encouraging the admission of rural background students and supporting the growth of regionally based academic health faculties and clinical schools.Key words: Australia, graduate, longitudinal, medical, practice, tracking, workforce.
Issue: It is imperative to assess the relevance and effectiveness of regionally based academic health faculties and clinical schools so standards can be maintained and health workforce supply and distribution can be maximised to benefit local populations.
Approach: The James Cook University (JCU) College of Medicine and Dentistry, the first regional Australian medical school, has developed a longitudinal tracking system for its medical graduates. Processes include administering an exit survey to each cohort immediately prior to graduation (which also collects each graduate’s details and consent to be contacted for follow-up studies and practice/career choice data), a FacebookTM page to search for hard-to-trace graduates, and accessing the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Authority (AHPRA) website.
Conclusions: The comprehensive personal contact tracking system backed by the AHPRA website has resulted in a 98% complete longitudinal tracking database, and thus a comprehensive picture of the practice location of JCU medical graduates from 2006 to 2013, enabling exploration of the patterns of practice to be conducted with considerable confidence. It is intended that the tracking database will be maintained for many years to allow regular follow-up of graduates well into their established careers. However, as graduate numbers increase at the JCU medical school, personal contact will be made with the majority of graduates on a less frequent basis.
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