Rise in demand for rehab specialists in Australia

November 2, 2015

Article by Global Pre-Meds
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Australia’s ageing population and an increasing awareness of the importance of rehabilitation has led to increased demand for rehabilitation practitioners in the country. This demand shows no sign of slowing over the next several years as is demonstrated by several measures that have been put in place by different entities. 

The federal government has officially acknowledged the importance of rehabilitation by increasing funding for rehabilitation beds and services.

To meet the growing demand for rehab training positions, the Australasian Faculty of Rehabilitation Medicine (AFRM) has expanded the number of training places three times, from about 40 to 120. The AFRM is a Faculty of the Royal Australasian College of Physicians, which provides training and continuing education for Rehabilitation Medicine Fellows and trainees at all stages of their career. 

If rehabilitation is an area that interests you, this is an excellent time to consider choosing a career in this field. The job potential is tremendous with reports stating that graduates in this specialty can generally find employment without much difficulty. 

What is rehab medicine? 

The goal of rehab medicine is to help people get back on their feet and to assist them in improving physical, mental, vocational and social function so they can live as independently as possible.

Rehabilitation medicine includes treatment for a wide assortment of conditions and disabilities, ranging from management of disabilities following major illnesses such as spinal cord injury, traumatic brain injury, stroke and multiple fractures to rehab treatment following acute sports and musculoskeletal injuries.

Rehab medicine training focuses on the identification and treatment of the underlying causes of whiplash, musculoskeletal pain, movement impairment, chronic stiffness and other related ailments. Treatment may vary from standard stretching, mobilisation and manipulative techniques, to advanced treatment techniques. 

Rehab counselling – a challenging specialty  

Rehab counsellors play a key role in helping people with disabilities develop the necessary strategies to live full and independent lives and accomplish their personal goals.  

Once a goal has been identified, the counsellor works together with the client towards this goal using a variety of strategies, which could include role-playing, learning new skills, job modification or assistive technology. In addition to helping the client connect with helpful organisations within the community, rehab counsellors also work with employers to help them accommodate the on-the-job needs of employees with various disabilities.

Because disability is a complex condition, rehabilitation counsellors usually practice within a team consisting of physicians, nurses, psychologists and social workers. These professionals work together to develop a customised treatment plan and coordinate client care.

Much of the rehabilitation process takes place in clients’ everyday environments, which means you will often travel to homes, schools and workplaces where you would spend much of your work time interacting not just with the client but also with their family members, employers, teachers and members of the treatment team. 

Outstanding communication and interpersonal skills, patience and empathy are necessary traits for anyone wishing to pursue a career as a rehab counsellor. Knowledge of technology is also important as there are different types of assistive technologies, from electric wheelchairs to iPad apps that play an important role in the field today.

One of the most satisfying aspects of this specialty is being able to see your patients slowly get back their independence in various environments, whether it is a wounded sportsperson rejoining the sport they love or a disabled high school graduate landing a first job. 

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Gap Medics provides year-round hospital work experience for people aged 16 and over. Our shadowing placements offer a unique insight into the work of doctors, nurses, midwives and dentists – helping students to focus their career aspirations before embarking upon medical training.