Associate Professor Joel Rhee, who joins the School from the University of Wollongong, is the current chair of the RACGP Cancer and Palliative care network, and GP clinical lead at the HammondCare Centre for Positive Ageing and Care. Associate Professor Rhee’s clinical and academic career has been focused on improving the care of people who are most in need. 

“We are delighted to welcome Associate Professor Joel Rhee to lead our general practice research and teaching program and whose expertise in primary care research will bolster the School’s efforts to help build resilient health systems that are equitable and patient-centred,” said Rebecca Ivers, Head of UNSW School of Population Health.   

Associate Professor Rhee’s research is focused on optimising quality-of-life and enhancing decision-making in patients with chronic and life-limiting illnesses especially in outpatient and community settings. In addition, his work focuses on improving care provided by primary care professionals together with specialist palliative care and oncology services.

According to Associate Professor Rhee, Australia is facing an imminent crisis in its primary health care sector.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has deeply affected Australian general practices, resulting in exhaustion of health professionals and low morale. At the same time, the popularity of general practice as a career path for graduating medical students has declined over the past few years,” said Associate Professor Rhee. “This, together with the rise in chronic diseases and multimorbidity, highlights the incredibly important need of strong leadership, education and research in primary health care.” 

“Health systems that have a strong primary care orientation have better population level health outcomes and at lower costs,” he said. 

“Australia can no longer afford to keep investing into disease focused health care without also investing in healthcare systems and population health strategies.” 

It is UNSW School of Population Health’s strong focus on health inequities and patient-centred care that attracted Associate Professor Rhee to join the School. 

“Whether it is in medical student education, postgraduate teaching, higher degree student supervision, research, or in clinical care, the staff at the School of Population Health are dedicated to reducing inequity, and to ensuring that healthcare systems are able to meet the needs of patients and populations in Australia and globally,” said Associated Professor Rhee. “I am excited to join the team because of our shared passion.” 

“I am looking forward to helping grow the School’s  discipline of general practice and the undergraduate medicine team to become one of the leading departments in Australia, with a flourishing education and research portfolio, student research involvement, higher degree students, and strong collaboration with primary health care clinicians,” he said. 

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