Health graduates set to make their mark

The La Trobe Rural Health School has five new PhD graduates, cementing its place at the forefront of research into the health and wellbeing of rural communities.

Head of the School, Professor Teresa Iacono says the work of the newly minted researchers has significant local and global reach.

'Whilst they have completed highly relevant studies that directly address some of the major issues that impact rural people, the knowledge generated from their work has worldwide relevance.'

Two of the graduates - Dr Melanie Bish and Dr Kaye Knight focused on key aspects of rural nursing.

Dr Knight looked at the central role rural nurses play as a first port of call in providing health advice over the phone when people call a hospital directly.

Dr Bish developed strategies for building rural nursing leadership to support increasingly complex health care issues and ensuring nurses contribute effectively to Australia's major health reform agenda.

Social workers from across Australia, the UK, USA and Canada were the subject of Dr Helen Hickson's PhD. Her thesis highlighted the importance of supporting and encouraging reflective practice amongst social workers to ensure better professional practice.

With increasing levels of diabetes in the population, Dr Byron Perrin's regionally based study is highly topical. His work explored the psychological and behavioural reasons for poor diabetes foot outcomes. This new knowledge will help health professionals design more appropriate treatments.

And - Dr Kathy Mendis , through her study, explored the experiences of 18 women who were in state care and have gone on to achieve university degrees.

Director of the Building Healthy Rural Communities research program for the La Trobe Rural Health School Dr Amanda Kenny says while diverse, each of these projects address some of the major challenges faced by rural people and communities.

'The work of these graduates is connected by a focus on local care delivered by highly skilled health and human services professionals. It looks at the integral role that education plays in improved outcomes for rural people. This is vitally important research.'


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