NSW Rural Health and Research Congress meet in Dubbo

Around 350 health professionals have converged at the Dubbo Regional Theatre and Convention Centre for the third annual NSW Rural Health and Research Congress.

Organised by the Health Education and Training Institute, Australian Rural Research Collaboration, Western NSW Local Health District and NSW Health, the theme of this year's biannual conference is 'Rural Health Horizons- shaping our future'.

The conference started yesterday and will continue until Thursday, featuring talks on integrated care, mental health education for the future and improving health outcomes for isolated people living with cancer.

Chief Executive of the Western NSW Local Health District Scott McLachlan said around 350 people will attend the congress throughout the three days.

"It's important in picking up new research, finding out what's working and how it can be transformed elsewhere," Mr McLachlan said.

He said rural health practitioners are often isolated, but the congress allows them to network with their peers, sharing information and learning new practices.

Social researcher, principal of McCrindle research Australia and key note speaker Mark McCrindle said his address focused on the changes, challenges and trends in rural NSW, especially in regards to the aging healthcare workers.

"I was talking about how the health department can, from an employment perspective, deal with an aging workforce.

"The average age for an Australian is 37, the average age for a healthcare worker is 41, so we have the second oldest average age of any worker," Mr McCrindle said.

He said a show of hands from those at the congress revealed the baby boomers are still dominating the industry.

Mr McCrindle said his speech also covered how to engage with the younger generations by utilising YouTube and mobile phone aps.

"Society is changing so quickly we can sometimes be doing our 20th century thing and we're living in the 21st century," he said.

The social researcher said he was most looking forward to hearing about new information unrelated to his area of expertise, such as the public healthcare measures in place if a virus like Ebola broke out in Australia.