Innovative alliance to train next generation of health workers

Published 20 April 2023
Artist's render of the Alliance building at the new Tweed Valley Hospital

Four of Australia’s leading education institutions have formed an innovative collaboration with the Northern NSW Local Health District to grow and train the next generation of skilled healthcare workers and pave the way for improved health outcomes in Northern NSW.

The Northern NSW Academic Health Alliance, comprised of Griffith University, Southern Cross University, Bond University and TAFE NSW will deliver an integrated clinical training and collaborative research hub at the new Tweed Valley Hospital.

Pro Vice Chancellor of Health at Griffith University Professor Analise O’Donovan said the alliance will provide a great opportunity for students to get involved in a vibrant and innovative learning culture.

“It will be a culture based on multidisciplinary health education, training and research to deliver health education of the highest quality to current and future clinicians and researchers,” Professor O’Donovan said.

Vice President (Engagement) at Southern Cross University Mr Ben Roche said that the Alliance was a unique partnership with common goals.

“By harnessing our collective strengths, we can offer world-class facilities and training for students and pursue research that has impact nationally and globally. There is a clear and long-term benefit for our institutions and our communities,” Mr Roche said.

The Northern New South Wales Academic Health Alliance is a collaboration between Southern Cross University, Griffith University, Bond University and TAFE NSW.  It's a teaching and research collaboration largely based around the new Tweed Hospital and what it will provide is great opportunities for students in terms of learning and teaching and a broad range of health-related disciplines. We will then together build the next generation of the workforce. It's a unique opportunity for students to learn and gain practical experience right there on the grounds of a large regional health facility which I think will have great opportunities for staff engagement retention and making Northern New South Wales a place people really want to come work. And provide high quality Health Services. Together we can unite all of our resources and therefore provide a much richer opportunity for our students. The clinical schools model will enable us to focus on areas of key need: disability and Rehabilitation, Immunology, women and children, aged care and mental health. It will allow us to develop training opportunities for students and really provide a great opportunity for locals in that Community to expand their employment training options. I think some of the unique things that Bond brings are really a very strong expertise in evidence-based practice, evidence-based Healthcare. TAFE NSW students will be ready to care for residents in their regional health facility on completion of their training. Griffith is the largest university, we've trained over 45,000 health professionals. Southern Cross University is a regional University, it's about the community and individuals receiving better services and better care. If you want to go fast, go alone, but if you want to go far, go together. We want to go together to have the greatest impact for the community that we can possibly can have.

Bond University’s Executive Dean of Health Sciences & Medicine, Professor Nick Zwar said the Alliance partners provided collective expertise in research, education and training across a wide range of health disciplines.

“The most important asset of any healthcare organisation is its people. Healthcare workers need to be skilled and knowledgeable, but also adaptable and engaged in lifelong learning. This Alliance provides another drawcard to attract and retain health staff in the region, with the added benefit of on-site education and 21st century training facilities,” Professor Zwar said.

TAFE NSW Executive Director Jason Darney said TAFE NSW is proud to join this Alliance and bring its expertise in co-designing and co-delivering highly flexible education programs that integrate research-led learning with advanced technical and industry-based skills.

“Through this innovative collaboration with education providers, the local community will benefit from a pipeline of skilled healthcare workers  and increased capacity to provide quality, patient-centred care,” Mr Darney said.

Northern NSW Local Health District Executive Director Medical Services, Dr Tim Williams, said the Alliance creates an exciting new model for healthcare innovation and collaboration that will deliver health education of the highest quality to current and future clinicians and researchers, tailored specifically to regional health needs.

“Together, these partners will create multidisciplinary health education, training and research programs which will rapidly develop Northern NSW’s health workforce in emerging and high-demand skill areas such as nursing, midwifery, allied health and medicine,” Dr Williams said.

Based in the Tweed Valley Hospital Learning, Development and Research building, the Northern NSW Academic Alliance’s integrated clinical training and collaborative research centre will provide students and researchers with access to purpose-built education, training, simulation, and library facilities and on-site clinical supervisors.

It will open in late December 2023.

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