Is current education for health disciplines part of the failure to improve remote Aboriginal health?

F McConnel, S Demos, Dean Carson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The problem: Current education does not prepare health professionals for the very different context of remote Aboriginal health. This has negative effects on health services and causes an educationally generated recruitment-retention trap. A proposed solution: A new style of health service in remote Aboriginal communities is suggested, based on primary healthcare teams, in a biopsychosocial model which includes traditional healers. The proposed workforce will be predominantly Aboriginal and in a much wider range of positions and levels. They will work within and outside clinics and will assert their cultural and community knowledge as 'cultural brokers'. They will provide continuity of knowledge and practice for successive non-Indigenous health professionals. They will work with doctors in case conference mode to circumvent communication barriers and develop effective management strategies. Implications: Specific educational development is needed for preparation of Aboriginal health workers with leadership and health literacy skills to work effectively in teams of equals, and reciprocal preparation of non-Indigenous health professionals for working in and toward new relationships. New courses, curricula and delivery are needed for new and expanded Aboriginal roles, from community-based workers to graduate level in all disciplines of health and social sciences. Interdisciplinary teaching in context, in teams, in the remote community workplace, from a local (remote) education provider or hub, is the only feasible method of establishing and sustaining this paradigm.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)75-83
Number of pages9
JournalFocus on Health Professional Education
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2011


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