Unicare succeeds on many levels
Dr Stephanie Taylor with student James McNeil and a patient.
Adelaide Unicare clinics owned and operated by the University of Adelaide are attracting increasing numbers of patients while providing critical real-life student learning experiences and research opportunities.
The network of six clinics in Adelaide and regional South Australia delivers quality primary healthcare to various communities, with more than 150,000 patient attendances over a 12-month period.
At the same time Unicare is giving medical, nursing and allied health students access to a hands-on teaching experience, enabling them to work with patients from all types of backgrounds and with specialist needs.
It also fills an important third goal, providing postgraduate students with unrivalled access to general practice for important research.
CEO Michael Chalk says Adelaide Unicare is highly innovative and continues to evolve as it succeeds across many levels.
"Unicare is always looking at new ways to expand our services in conjunction with the University to meet the needs of the various communities we serve - and that includes students, researchers and the general public," he says.
"For example, late last year our Gawler Place Medical Practice opened a satellite clinic in Light Square especially to offer bulk-billed GP services to the local homeless and marginalised community.
"Then in June this year we opened a new service, in a joint initiative with the University, to provide specialist counselling support for students who are referred by the University's Counselling & Disability Service."
Adelaide Unicare is the inspiration of Timothy Murrell, the visionary founding professor of the University's community medicine department, who spent two decades setting up and running GP medical education facilities.
Today Adelaide Unicare engages 60 healthcare providers at its six clinics. Two are located in Adelaide's CBD, including the University Health Medical Practice on the North Terrace campus, which is mainly used by staff and students.
Three clinics have been opened in the northern suburbs, including the flagship Unihealth Playford practice at Munno Para West, which was built using funding under the Federal Government's GP Super Clinic program.
The sixth clinic is located at Minlaton on the Yorke Peninsula.
"Having clinics in diverse locations provides our students with a range of unique experiences, including work with Indigenous patients and those with various special needs, so it becomes a really important part of their study," says Mr Chalk.
"This year alone we have budgeted for nearly 1,700 student placement days across our network, covering medical, psychology, nursing and counselling students."
Mr Chalk says future priorities include involving a broader range of students in Unicare activities, and leveraging off its practices to help the University expand its goal of becoming a 'health promoting' university.