Rural placements in Tasmania: do experiential placements and background influence undergraduate health science student's attitudes toward rural practice?
Dalton, L and Routley, GK and Peek, KJ, Rural placements in Tasmania: do experiential placements and background influence undergraduate health science student's attitudes toward rural practice?, Rural and Remote Health, 8, (3) pp. 1-11. ISSN 1445-6354 (2008) [Refereed Article]
Introduction: Each year growing numbers of undergraduate health science students, from a variety of disciplines, participate in a University of Tasmania Department of Rural Health supported rural placement program in Tasmania. This study aimed to investigate the influence rural placement and rural background had on studentsí intentions to live and work in a rural or remote location after graduation. Methods: Between January 2005 and December 2006, 336 students participated in the placement program. Students were
requested to complete a survey at the completion of their placement. A response rate of 239 was achieved (71%). The survey measured studentsí stated rural career intentions and rural background status according to location of primary and secondary school attendance. A demographic analysis of respondents was undertaken and results cross tabulated according to the rural, remote and metropolitan area (RRMA) classification system. Statistical analyses, including paired t-tests and a Wilcoxon signed rank test, were conducted to compare reported mean intention to practise rurally both prior to and after placement.
Results: The results from this survey show that rural placements in the undergraduate health science programs have a predominantly positive influence on studentsí intention to work in a rural community post-graduation. While these findings were significant for the disciplines of nursing, medicine and allied health, the results were not significant for pharmacy students.
Studentsí average intention to practise rurally significantly increased after the placement for students from RRMA classifications 1 and 3-5.
Conclusion: The value of rural placements as a method for increasing health science studentsí intentionality to take up rural practice as a positive and viable career option is considerable.