Looking after the student's transition to placement
A rural placement can provide tremendous learning opportunities and a great personal experience but it can also be overwhelming. It is important to discuss student health and well-being prior to and during the clinical placement experience. General resources and information to support a student's emotional well-being can be applied, and additionally, in a rural and remote setting, you may need to consider the following:
Staying in touch
Going out on clinical placement can be challenging, even more so if you are away from your usual support network. It is important for students to stay in touch with family and friends. Student supervisors should provide information relating to the availability, access and cost of internet access. Mobile phone coverage can vary in country communities - students can be advised ahead of placement to check with mobile providers to determine the reception quality in the destination.
Plan for isolation
Everyone needs some down time so supervisors should suggest students to bring whatever they need to relax (e.g. a good book, DVDs, running shoes). At the start of placement, student supervisors should work with the student to create a plan for communications should the student's expectation of the placement experience, and the experience itself do not align. Establish what supports are provided by the university to facilitate this process.
Regardless of where a placement is, it is important to consider personal safety. The National Rural Health Student Network Rural Placements Guide has some great tips for students to accesson keeping safe.
Useful resources to support student well-being in rural and remote settings
- National Rural Health Student Network: When the cowpat hits the windmill. This booklet was developed by NRHSN and beyondblue for medical, nursing and allied health students. It is a resource written by students for students discussing some of the mental health challenges faced by people working in rural and remote health services.
- National Rural Health Student Network (2011). Rural Placements Guide: How to make the most of your rural placement rural placement guide. NRHSN, Melbourne.
- National Rural Health Students’ Network (2007). When the cowpat hits the windmill. A guide for staying mentally fit written by students for students.