Student placements in a rural and remote practice context

Clinical education is a rewarding aspect of clinical practice but there are some additional challenges and considerations when providing a quality placement in a rural and remote setting.

Sarah Jackson, Physiotherapist and North West Community Rehab Project Manager at the Mount Isa Centre for Rural and Remote Health (MICRRH) is an experienced Clinical Educator. In this video Sarah shares some tips when hosting students in a rural and remote setting. 



The Siggins Miller report “Promoting quality in clinical placements: literature review and national stakeholder consultation” (Health Workforce Australia, December 2012) identified enablers for rural and remote placements. The enablers were:

  • a considered and appropriate structure of placement that is supported in the rural and remote setting
  • well prepared students and good orientation to the placement
  • practical support for students
  • access to technology
  • interprofessional collaboration
  • a positive relationship between the Clinical Educator and the student
  • support for the Clinical Educators

These identified enablers have been used as a framework for further information and practical resources for Clinical Educators. There are resources for Clinical Educators and resources that a Clinical Educator can give to their students to help prepare them for a rural or remote placement.

Unique experiences of a rural and remote allied health student placement

A rural and remote placement can offer a number of 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 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 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 develop professional networks
  • 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.  




Reflection Activity: Unique experiences of a rural and remote placement

This section contains references and a reflection activity.
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