Courses and programs

Rural Research Capacity Building Program

The Rural Research Capacity Building Program aims to increase the number of rural and remote health workers with knowledge and skills in evaluation and research methods. It also aims to contribute to the literature on both innovation and evidence-based practice around rural and remote health care.

The two-year experiential research program is underpinned by a curriculum and a competency-based framework covering major aspects of the research process. Almost 200 rurally located NSW health staff have undertaken the program since it commenced in 2006. The implementation and translation of their research projects is influencing health service delivery, health outcomes and research expertise across rural NSW and beyond.

Staff from all rural Local Health Districts in NSW, along with rurally based staff from Ambulance NSW, Justice Health and Forensic Mental Health and NSW Health Pillars are eligible to apply to the program. Individuals are awarded a place in the program based on their readiness to undertake a research project, the relevance of the research to advancing rural health and support from their health service.

As part of the formal curriculum, candidates learn about key aspects of the research and evaluation process. Key learning areas include:

  • Understanding the context of research
  • Designing research
  • Conducting research
  • Communicating research

Candidates use their own projects as the basis of an experiential learning approach, with further depth on aspects of quantitative, qualitative and mixed-methods research explored in formal workshop-based teaching.

Funding is also provided to Local Health Districts to support candidates.

Two Senior Program Managers for Rural Research Education (One FTE position) are employed to coordinate the overall program, facilitate capacity building strategies and provide technical advice to candidates. The Managers have a key role in ongoing teaching, delivering weekly webconferences and teleconferences to ensure learning is topical, timely and relevant.

In addition to supervision from Rural Research Education Managers, candidates build a support team around the project which includes an academic mentor, a project sponsor within their organisation and a translation expert who can assist with translating the findings of the study into policy or practice.

There are many organisations and individuals working together to support the Rural Research Capacity Building Program by providing tutoring, mentoring, training or advocacy.

These include, but are not limited to:

  • Engagement and executive and managerial level throughout rural LHDs, Ambulance NSW, Justice Health and Forensic Mental Health
  • NSW Health Pillars
  • The Office of Health and Medical Research
  • Australian Rural Health Research Collaboration
  • The University of Sydney School of Rural Health and Sydney Medical School

The program also draws on teaching expertise from a range of educational institutions across the state, with a range of rurally-based academics from the University of Sydney providing expert teaching across the workshop components of the program.

Information for all intakes is routinely collected on aspects of the program such as financial investment, attendance at face-to-face workshops or teleconferences and progress to timelines for candidates, graduation rates and post-program research implementation.

Self-assessed competence on selected research skills is captured using the 'Research Spider'. This is collected in terms of inputs, outputs and outcomes and is based on a program logic model. Information is added to this continually to keep it up to date.

Publications related to the evaluation of the Rural Research capacity Building Program include:

Schmidt, D., Robinson, K., Webster, E., 2014. Factors influencing attrition from a researcher training program. International Journal for Researcher Development, 5(1) 56-67.

Duncanson, K., Webster, E.L. and Schmidt, D.D., 2018. Impact of a remotely delivered, writing for publication program on publication outcomes of novice researchers. Rural & Remote Health18(2).

If you are interested in applying, please contact:

David Schmidt

Senior Program Manager - Rural Research Education

02 6492 9104

Kerith Duncanson

Senior Program Manager - Rural Research Education

0428 848 264