Original Research

The allied health rural generalist pathway: a cost consequence analysis


name here
Alison Dymmott
1,2 (Australian) PhD, Senior Lecturer * ORCID logo

name here
Chris Brebner
1 PhD, Pro Vice Chancellor (Curriculum Impact) ORCID logo

name here
Stacey George
1 PhD, Professor ORCID logo

name here
Narelle Campbell
3 PhD, Associate Professor ORCID logo

name here
Jodie May
4 BNutDiet, Senior Project Manager

name here
Robyn Gill
4 MAScPhysio, Project Manager

name here
Rachel Milte
1 PhD, Senior Research Fellow and Matthew Flinders Fellow ORCID logo


1 Caring Futures Institute, College of Nursing and Health Sciences, Flinders University, Adelaide, SA, Australia

2 Flinders University, Sturt Campus, GPO Box 2100, Adelaide, SA 5001, Australia

3 College of Medicine and Public Health, Flinders University Northern Territory, Darwin, NT, Australia

4 Rural Support Service, SA Health, PO Box 3017, Rundle Mall, Adelaide, SA 5000, Australia

ACCEPTED: 15 February 2024

Alison Dymmott: The allied health rural generalist pathway: a cost consequence analysis

early abstract:

Background: Rural and remote health workforces face longstanding challenges in Australia. Little is known about the economic effectiveness of workforce initiatives to increase recruitment and retention. A two-level allied health rural generalist pathway was introduced as a workforce strategy in regional local health networks (LHNs) in South Australia in 2019. This research measured the resources and outcomes of the pathway following its introduction.
Methods: A multi-phase, mixed methods study was conducted between a three year follow up period (2019–2022). A cost-consequence analysis was conducted as part of this study. Resources measured included tuition, time for quarantined study, supervision and support, and program manager salary. Outcomes measured included length of tenuret, turnover data, career progression, service development time, confidence and competence.
Results: Fifteen allied health professional trainees participated in the pathway between 2019 and 2022 and seven completed during this time. Trainees participated for between 3 and 42 months. The average total cost of supporting a level 1 trainee was $34,875 and level 2 was $70,469. The total return on investment within the evaluation period was $317,610 for the level 1 program and $58,680 for the level 2 program. All seven completing trainees continued to work in regional LHNs at the six month follow up phase and confidence and competence to work as a rural generalist increased.
Conclusion: This research found that the allied health rural generalist pathway has the potential to generate multiple positive outcomes for a relatively small investment and is therefore likely to be a cost-effective workforce initiative.  
Keywords: cost consequence analysis, allied health, rural and remote, generalist training, workforce