Graduate Research Symposium

La Trobe Rural Health School prepares HDR students to deliver research that matters for rural communities

To make an impact, you must plan for it.

Embedding impact in research design was a key focus for the HDR (higher degree by research) students at La Trobe Rural Health School (LRHS)’s recent Graduate Research Symposium.

Keynote presenter Ken Knight from Murdoch Children’s Research Institute motivated students to adopt planning-logic models to include distinct types of impact, such as knowledge, health, economic and societal impact, in research design.

Associate Professor Leesa Hooker, Associate Dean, Research and Industry Engagement, LRHS said students also learnt strategies about how to seek project funding and how to communicate the difference their research makes.

“The symposium was a great opportunity to collectively focus on how to pave a pathway to impact,” Leesa said.

“At LRHS, we are all about addressing the rural health crisis, so it’s absolutely critical for our emerging researchers to have the tools to maximise their impact.”

Georgia Petrou, Bandana Khadka and Michelle Hood were among the 25 HDR students who presented at the symposium.

Although at different stages of their PhD journeys, each focussed on the potential impact of their work.

Georgia’s research on the psychological distress of rural healthcare workers during the pandemic is due to conclude next year.

“I hope the findings and recommendations will help healthcare providers take stronger preventative measures to support their employees’ mental health and wellbeing.”

Part way through conducting extended interviews, Michelle is looking at the experience of rural carers in palliative care.

“I hope my research will contribute to better collaboration among carers and practitioners as well as interventions to support carers after loss.”

Bandana, who just started her PhD, was motivated to bring focus and attention to the oral health of people with disabilities.

“People with disabilities and their families need assistance to know more about the services and supports available and how to talk about oral health concerns in a safe and trusting environment.”

Associate Professor Hooker was optimistic about the prospective impact of the many projects presented.

“We have a strong track-record of making a real impact, and the symposium gives us confidence that we will continue to influence change and improve lives into the future.”