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Ruralization of studentsí horizons: insights into Australian health professional studentsí rural and remote placements


Smith, T and Cross, M and Waller, S and Chambers, H and Farthing, A and Barraclough, F and Pit, SW and Sutton, K and Muyambi, K and King, S and Anderson, J, Ruralization of students' horizons: insights into Australian health professional students' rural and remote placements, Journal of multidisciplinary healthcare, 11 pp. 85-97. ISSN 1178-2390 (2018) [Refereed Article]


Copyright Statement

© 2018 The Authors. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported (CC BY-NC 3.0)

DOI: doi:10.2147/JMDH.S150623


Introduction: Health workforce shortages have driven the Australian and other Western governments to invest in engaging more health professional students in rural and remote placements. The aim of this qualitative study was to provide an understanding of the lived experiences of students undertaking placements in various nonmetropolitan locations across Australia. In addition to providing their suggestions to improve rural placements, the study provides insight into factors contributing to positive and negative experiences that influence studentsí future rural practice intentions.

Methods: Responses to open-ended survey questions from 3,204 students from multiple health professions and universities were analyzed using two independent methods applied concurrently: manual thematic analysis and computerized content analysis using Leximancer software.

Results: The core concept identified from the thematic analysis was "ruralization of studentsí horizons," a construct representing the importance of preparing health professional students for practice in nonmetropolitan locations. Ruralization embodies three interrelated themes, "preparation and support," "rural or remote health experience," and "rural lifestyle and socialization," each of which includes multiple subthemes. From the content analysis, factors that promoted studentsí rural practice intentions were having a "positive" practice experience, interactions with "supportive staff," and interactions with the "community" in general. It was apparent that "difficulties," eg, with "accommodation," "Internet" access, "transport," and "financial" support, negatively impacted studentsí placement experience and rural practice intentions.

Conclusions: The study findings have policy and practice implications for continuing to support students undertaking regional, rural, and remote placements and preparing them for future practice in nonmetropolitan locations. This study may, therefore, further inform ongoing strategies for improving rural placement experiences and enhancing rural health workforce recruitment, retention, and capacity building.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:clinical placement, fieldwork, multidisciplinary, rural health workforce, undergraduate education
Research Division:Education
Research Group:Specialist studies in education
Research Field:Specialist studies in education not elsewhere classified
Objective Division:Health
Objective Group:Specific population health (excl. Indigenous health)
Objective Field:Rural and remote area health
UTAS Author:Cross, M (Dr Merylin Cross)
ID Code:123891
Year Published:2018
Web of Science® Times Cited:36
Deposited By:UTAS Centre for Rural Health
Deposited On:2018-01-31
Last Modified:2018-12-10
Downloads:58 View Download Statistics

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