Improving health student placement experiences in rural Tasmania: The Whole of Community Facilitator model of support
Astill, S and Zournazis, H and Marlow, A, Improving health student placement experiences in rural Tasmania: The Whole of Community Facilitator model of support, Australian and International Journal of Rural Education, 30, (1) pp. 1-17. ISSN 1839-7387 (2020) [Refereed Article]
Health professionals require specific knowledge and a broad range of skills and attributes to work and reside in rural environments. It is important students are offered the opportunity to undertake a rural professional experience placement (PEP) to ensure they develop a breadth of understanding of healthcare practice with opportunities to apply for rural positions after graduation. More importantly, students should have a positive rural experience which extends beyond the placement. Past research identifies barriers to positive placement experiences relate to limited exposure to diverse practice environments and multidisciplinary learning opportunities for students and supervisors (Smith et al., 2017). To overcome these barriers the Whole of Community Facilitator (WOCF) model of support was conceptualised. It engages a dedicated health professional responsible for supporting students and supervisors, whilst also building capacity and capability of additional organisations to host students. The WOCF is an important communication link between the student, healthcare organisation and students' universities. This paper examines the project findings from stage one of the WOCF model implemented in fourteen locations throughout rural Tasmania. Overall, this model was well received by students, supervisors and organisations; particularly in the areas of student orientation, learning and teaching, support and guidance. However, the WOCF role requires further development to address competing work demands, time constraints and healthcare organisation requirements. Despite these limitations, the tripartite model offers healthcare organisations and supervisors opportunity to strengthen the preparation of the next generation of rural health practitioners. The outcomes of this study have relevance for other professions in rural settings, such as teaching.
rural health workforce, rural health student placement, student support, supervisor support, learning and teaching, whole of community facilitator