Working in a rural and remote setting can be a challenging but rewarding opportunity. In order to get the most from your clinical placement, it is important to be prepared, go in with an open mind and be flexible.
Student orientation manual
Contact your Clinical Educator and see if there is an orientation manual. A good orientation manual will inform you about the service, the local community and facilities, local transport, the expectations of the placement (e.g. uniform, workplace specific policies) and mandatory requirements.
Some examples of orientation manuals are:
An excellent resource for students undertaking a rural placement is the National Rural Health Student Network (NHRSN) rural placement guide. The guide has information, tips and checklists to help you prepare and organise for a rural or remote placement.
Some critical issues you must address before you go are:
- Check the dates of your placement.
- How will you get to your placement? If you are driving to your placement, make sure you have an up-to-date map or check the route out. Check if there are unsealed roads and consider if your car is suitable for the roads.
- On your first day, what time do you need to start, will someone be meeting you and where do you need to go?
- Have you planned accommodation?
- If you work part time make sure you have negotiated the time off from work.
- Are there useful resources or equipment you need to take?
- Do you have all your university placement documentation (e.g., assessment, clinical hours documentation)?
Knowing about the community you are going to
The health issues may differ in rural, regional and remote areas. It will be helpful to have some idea about the community you are going to and the ‘lay of the land’.
- Find out what the community is like.
- Where can you source information about the community (shire, tourist information centre etc)?
- What are the clinical services available in the community or surrounding areas?
- What are the priority health issues for the community?
- Are there any support services in the community? If so, what are they and how accessible are they?
The National Rural Health Alliance has key rural health documents including The National Strategic Framework for Rural and Remote Health.
The Australian Rural Health Education Network has published ‘A textbook of Australian Rural Health’ (Eds., Siaw-Teng Liaw & Kilpatrick, 2008). It is available to download and has some useful chapters on understanding health in a rural community.
- Try and access a map of the town site and surrounding areas.
- What social or recreational activities are available in the community?
- What else can you do in the community other than work?
Australian Health Ministers Advisory Council (AHMAC) Rural Health Standing Committee (2012). The National Strategic Framework for Rural and Remote Health (2012). Commonwealth of Australia, Canberra.
Government of Western Australia Department of Health (2010). Allied Health Rural Student Placement Orientation Guide (Pre-Placement). WA Country Health Service, Perth.
Liaw, S. & Kilpatrick, S. (Eds.). (2008). A textbook of Australian Rural Health. Australian Rural Health Education Network, Canberra.
Mount Isa Centre for Rural and Remote Health (2011). Student Orientation Manual: Code of conduct and placement rules for visiting students.
National Rural Health Student Network (2011). Rural Placements Guide:How to make the most of your rural placement rural placement guide. NRHSN, Melbourne.