Military Medicine Sets Sights On Targeted Training

RAAF

Female Defence personnel could receive more specialised care as a result of enhanced career progression for nurses and medical officers.

According to research presented at the Australian Military Medicine Association Conference recently, additional qualifications in women’s health could help to deliver better health outcomes.

Presenting her proposal at the conference last year, Senior Medical Officer of Combat Support Group’s Health Operational Conversion Unit, Flight Lieutenant Tara Kinnane, showed options for health staff to study specific courses.

“I saw a need for more focused medical attention in relation to women’s health, as numbers of women joining Defence increase. For example, the RAAF now has 26 per cent of its workforce filled by women,” Flight Lieutenant Kinnane said.

“Enhancing our training for health staff, with a focus on women’s health, will not only lead to better health care delivered through garrison health, but also reduce the number of external referrals to off-base providers while delivering a sustainable approach through the establishment of specific Women’s Health Garrison clinics.

“It will also improve operational capability, provide opportunity to enhance regional Defence partnerships and demonstrate the ADF’s commitment to recognising the value of diversity among serving members.”

‘Meeting the unique health needs of women in the ADF directly relates to their recruitment, retention, wellbeing and full participation.’

Gender Peace and Security Lead at Combat Support Group, Manny McAuley, said Flight Lieutenant Kinnane’s research had a strong alignment with the ADF Gender, Peace and Security Mandate.

“Meeting the unique health needs of women in the ADF directly relates to their recruitment, retention, wellbeing and full participation,” Mr McAuley said.

Courses are aimed at building on the existing skills and knowledge of clinicians to provide more specialised care.

The flexible manner in which courses are delivered is particularly important for health staff, whose operational requirements affect their ability to complete study.

As numbers of women increase in the ADF, improving health support to members, both at their home locations and in a deployed environment, has obvious benefits to capability.

A similar approach to aircrew, specifically supported by the Institute of Aviation Medicine, could be directed towards women’s health.

‘The ability to access relevant health care for all our members has the benefit of reducing the burden and cost of referrals.’

Establishing posted positions for staff with these additional qualifications across Joint Heath Centres would make specific education regarding health care more readily available for serving women.

“The ability to access relevant health care for all our members has the benefit of reducing the burden and cost of referrals,” Flight Lieutenant Kinnane said.

“Establishment of such clinics at health centres would provide a sustainable health-care model to a growing number of women serving in Defence.”

The proposal could also strengthen the retention of medical officers, nurses and allied health professionals, which aligns with the National Defence Strategic Review.

The Medical Officer Professional and Career Development Committee have endorsed additional studies in women’s health, the first step in bringing Flight Lieutenant Kinnane’s vision to life.

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