In an Australian first, a Professor of Rural Pharmacy has been appointed after the NSW Department of Health and Charles Sturt University (CSU) joined forces to address the shortages of pharmacists in rural NSW.
The collaboration will see the joint appointment of Patrick Ball as Professor of Rural Pharmacy with CSU and the Greater Southern Area Health Service.
Professor Ball will lead and develop strategies for three issues of concern for rural Australia; attracting and retaining health care professionals, providing certainty and security for services provided in rural areas and providing services closer to where rural people live.
This appointment demonstrates a commitment by the State Government to its NSW Rural Health Report and will provide a significant boost to the pharmacy profession across NSW and Australia.
The development is closely linked with the establishment of the NSW Institute for Rural Clinical Services and Teaching and shows the role of universities located in regional and rural areas in meeting the needs of their communities.
Professor Ball brings to CSU international experience in practice, research and training from the UK and New Zealand. His activities will enhance options for pharmacy education and service delivery which will be particularly good news for rural communities.
CSU has a strong record of breaking new ground in training professionals for rural communities, highlighted by the pharmacy program as well as physiotherapy, nursing, occupational therapy and diagnostic imaging.
“The first non metropolitan pharmacy course started at CSU in 1997 with 70 per cent of CSU graduates choosing to practice in rural and regional Australia and boasts a 100 per cent employment rate,” said Dean of the CSU Faculty of Health Studies Professor Mark Burton.
“This has resulted in a major resurgence of the pharmacy profession in country areas which has potential flow-on effects for other health services to expand in regions, previously in decline.
“Professor Ball will concentrate on drawing together the different health professionals of the health care team in rural hospitals and community pharmacies to maximise the levels of service available to small and large country towns,” added Professor Burton.