Student placements in a rural and remote practice context
Rural and remote student placements share many aspects with student placements at metropolitan sites. When considering whether to offer a student placement, rural and remote supervisors should consider:
- Structure and supports for a student placement:
- Planning for student placements, including placement models, and supervision requirements
- Whether the student placement will involve service provision to outreach sites
- The orientation that will be required to facilitate the student’s transition to placement
- The role of technology in supporting students and supervision
- The role of interprofessional education
- The supports the supervisors might need
2. Student preparation and support for rural and remote placements
Sarah Jackson, Physiotherapist and North West Community Rehab Project Manager at the Mount Isa Centre for Rural and Remote Health (MICRRH) is an experienced student supervisor. In this video Sarah shares some tips when hosting students in a rural and remote setting.
Some enablers for quality rural and remote placements include:
- a considered and appropriate placement structure
- well prepared students and good orientation to the placement
- practical support for students
- access to technology
- interprofessional collaboration
- a positive relationship between the student supervisor and the student
- support for the Clinical Educators/student supervisors.
Unique experiences of a rural and remote allied health student placement
A rural and remote placement can offer many unique learning experiences as there is exposure to a wide variety of clients and models of service delivery (inpatient, acute, outpatient, community, home based, outreach, telehealth, community health promotion). A placement in a rural and remote setting also provides an opportunity for the student to develop self-reliance, autonomy, clinical initiative, flexibility and time management skills.
The National Rural Health Students’ Network (NRHSN) identifies a number of advantages to participating in a rural or remote placement that may not be available in metropolitan placements. They include:
- exposure to a wide variety of tasks performed by rural health professionals
- opportunity to develop a strong sense of teamwork and flexibility
- ability to develop an increased skill set
- chance to meet new people (professional and social)
- a realistic understanding of rural health service provision and the skills required to work in a rural and remote location
- a greater sense of confidence
- increased diversity in skills and knowledge
- a higher sense of autonomy and responsibility
- ability to develop innovation and flexibility (in response to limited access to some equipment and resources)
- opportunity to learn about different cultural groups and gain an understanding of cultural safety.
It is important to identify the learning experiences that your practice setting can offer and discuss these with your student. This information will help the student understand the placement and identify learning goals that they can achieve.
- Siggins Miller Consultants (2012). Promoting Quality in Clinical Placements: Literature review and national stakeholder consultation. Health Workforce Australia, Adelaide.
- National Rural Health Students’ Network (2019). Rural Placements Guide How to make the most of your rural placement.
Reflection Activity: Unique experiences of a rural and remote placement
This section contains references and a reflection activity.