Show me the money – Utilising the Health Workforce Scholarship Program to support continuing professional development for rural and remote primary health clinicians (case study)

Ms Tracey Lewis1Diane Bowden1

1NSW Rural Doctors Network, Newcastle/Hamilton, Australia



The Health Workforce Scholarship Program (HWSP) provides scholarships and bursaries to help health professionals in rural and remote Australia retain and enhance their skills, capacity and scope of practice. The Program is an initiative of the Australian Government Department of Health, administered in New South Wales by NSW Rural Doctors Network (RDN).

RDN prioritises allocation of funding through the HWSP based on RDN’s Health Workforce Needs Assessment and gaps in service delivery in accordance with the National Health Priorities.

Rural clinicians are often isolated professionally and a barrier to accessing continuing professional development (CPD) can be both the cost of the course or conference, and the travel and accommodation, this is where HWSP can assist.

What is happening?

Diane Bowden is a Primary Care Nurse working in a general practice in rural Bungendore NSW for the past 5.5 years and has worked in primary care for 10 years. This is the only practice within 25km of Queanbeyan and services Tarago, Bywong, Womboin, Captains Flat and Carwoola, with 7692 active patients.  The practice has 9 GPs, 2 PNs, 1 PM (also a PN), and 4 administrative staff.

Diane enrolled to complete Master of Nursing and applied to HWSP for financial assistance.  This was inspired by attending the APNA Conference in 2018, also funded through HWSP.

Diane’s passion is health prevention, chronic disease management and plans to implement Chronic Disease Clinics and a Health Ageing Clinic. This aligns with RDN’s priority areas of access, quality of access and future planning.


This case study demonstrates the value of HWSP in supporting our rural clinicians to gain and develop skills to meet the gaps in service delivery to improve health outcomes in rural and remote NSW & how this can be supported through HWSP.


Worked in primary health care over the past thirteen years across multiple organisations including Divisions of General Practice, Medicare Locals, Primary Health Networks and currently NSW Rural Doctors Network in regional and rural NSW.

Diane Bowden is an advanced RN working in general practice with over ten years experience. Passion for health prevention, CDM and Immunisation. Diane is currently completing her Master of Nursing to become a Nurse Practitioner.