Evaluation of the Rural Community Intern Training Program
The Rural Community Intern Training (RCIT) Program – re-branded as the Victorian Rural Generalist Training program in 2019 – was established in 2012 as an intern training model based in small rural and sub-regional hospitals. The program included core and non-core rotations to larger regional hospitals, general practices and community settings.
The RCIT program was created as part of a suite of rural medical workforce programs developed by the Victorian Department of Health and Human Services to address rural medical workforce issues and rural health service viability.
The RCIT Program commenced with five interns at one site in 2012 and had expanded to 35 interns across five sites by 2015:
§ South West Community Intern Program (South West CIP; or South West)
§ Grampians Rural Community Intern Program (Grampians RCIP; or Grampians)
§ East Gippsland Community Based Intern Program (East Gippsland CBIP; or East Gippsland)
§ Murray to Mountains Intern Program (M2M)
§ Echuca Intern Network (Echuca IN; or Echuca).
The RCIT Program evaluation framework that was developed in 2015 was created to provide structure for the evaluation of the RCIT Program and was intended to ensure that all evaluations of the RCIT program were consistent, valid and fit for purpose. The framework enabled the department and the individual RCIT programs to prepare and collect the correct information and data throughout the life of the RCIT programs.
Following the successful development of the evaluation framework in 2015, darcy associates was contracted to conduct the evaluation, which involved three cycles of data collection and analysis conducted over a two-year period, from 2016 until late 2018. The first cycle was conducted in the period December 2016 to February 2017. The second cycle was conducted mostly in late 2017 and the third and final cycle was completed in May – December 2018.
In addition to implementing the evaluation framework, the department accepted the suggestion of darcy associates to trial an innovative approach to assessment as part of the evaluation methodology. This approach, termed map-enabled experiential review (MEER), utilised the RCIT logic model as the data collection interface for a range of information about the practical realities of implementing the RCIT program at each of the five RCIT programs.
While providing important evaluation information, the MEER approach was also included to enable quality improvement to be incorporated in the RCIT evaluation process. Using performance information obtained through the conduct of team-based assessment exercises in the first cycle of evaluation, the intention was for each RCIT program to identify practical improvement action plans that would be implemented over time. The ultimate goal of this approach was to assist each program to create a better and more sustainable program. The team-based assessments were repeated in the third cycle of evaluation to provide insights about the nature and extent to which practical improvements were achieved within each RCIT program.