Medical workers across the region are set to be bolstered by an online one-stop shop to upskill, learn and communicate that will be launched this week. The Pilbara Health Professionals Network will provide health workers with a range of opportunities including networking events, an education and training portal, clinical discussions, a place to share research or just chat with other health workers. The network is the third of its type in WA, following successful launches in the South West and Goldfields in 2019. Pilbara Health Professionals Network spokeswoman Dr Cherelle Fitzclarence said the aim of the program was to ensure workers within the industry were well supported and encouraged to continue to work in the region. “Some of the major reasons for health professionals moving away is the difficulty in accessing ongoing professional development, the lack of collegiate support or feeling isolated in the community,” she said. “The PHPN will help overcome some of these challenges, and we hope it encourages health professionals to come to the region and stay in the region. “A website for the region where there is opportunity to promote such things as educational and social events, resources and listings of who to know and what they do has potential to make life easier for health workers.” Karratha-based occupational therapist Kelsie Burns, pictured, said she previously belonged to the South West Health Professionals Network before moving to the Pilbara earlier this year. She believes it will lead to greater continuity of care in the region, which ultimately benefits patient care. “Having moved from Bunbury and seen first-hand how great the South West network was, I think the PHPN will be a really good opportunity for local service providers to have a real understanding of what each can bring to the table,” she said. “Everyone wants to feel like they belong in a place so that’s really important both professionally and socially, and the network brings that altogether.” The Pilbara Health Professionals Network has been developed by a collective of like-minded health agencies, including Rural Health West, WA Country Health Service, WA Primary Health Alliance, The Rural Clinical School of WA, and the WA Centre for Rural Health. Rural Health West regional services and innovation manager Leesa Thomas said the networks were a long-term initiative aimed at enhancing the attractiveness of rural careers to health professionals. “There is significant evidence that health professionals will commit to a location if they feel well-supported and can build strong local networks,” she said. “In the other regions, we’ve held a number of face-to-face gatherings so that members can meet others in the region and build those relationships. “While this aspect of the network will be placed on hold for now, we aim to host a number of education and social events for members down the track.” To adhere to social distancing rules, the launch will go ahead via the video conferencing application Zoom at 6pm tomorrow.