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Considerations for orientation to rural and remote settings

General principles of student orientation apply to rural and remote settings. To plan student orientation to your rural and remote setting, visit the following ClinEdAus pages:

Orientation considerations unique to a rural and remote setting can include:

  • Travel to the placement, and any policies/procedures/guidelines on driving to and from placement, as well as any driving during the placement.  Also consider routes, unsealed roads, and suitability of the vehicle.
  • Available accommodation
  • Workload requirements (for example:  if you are full time/part time, travel time to outreach services, impact of travel and outreach on access to face-to-face supervision)
  • Resources and equipment provided to the student , and the resources and equipment the student will need to bring with them
  • Information about the community(s) the student will be e going to, the health issues that are present in the rural, regional, or remote area and the health and support services available in the community.

In this video, Sarah Jackson, Physiotherapist, Clinical Educator and North West Community Rehab Project Manager at the  Mount Isa Centre for Rural and Remote Health (MICRRH) explains the orientation students receive on placement with MICCRH. 

Involvement and engagement in the community

To undertake a rural or remote placement, a student has usually moved away from friends, family and university support networks. This can result in feelings of loneliness and may impact on their engagement in the placement. Webster et al. (2010) examined undergraduate nursing students’ experiences during a rural placement and found that as students became more involved in the community their feelings of social isolation and homesickness reduced. 

There are many ways to make a student feel welcome and supported. If possible, meet the student when they arrive and take them to their accommodation. Some other strategies include:

  • Take the student on a tour of the town so they know the location of the supermarket and other local facilities.
  • Invite the student to social functions with the staff and community.
  • Introduce the student to other students (from other health professions or other universities) who are on placement at the same time.
  • Provide the student with information about local facilities (e.g. pool, library, sporting groups).
  • Provide the student with information on church services (times and social groups) and upcoming social events.

Some examples of orientation manuals specific to rural and remote settings:


References:

  • Government of Western Australia Department of Health (2010).  Allied Health Rural Student Placement Orientation Guide (Pre-Placement).  WA Country Health Service, Perth.
  • 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. 
  • 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. 
  • Webster, S., Lopez, V., Allnut, J.,Clague, L.,  Jones, D. & Bennet, P. (2010). Undergraduate nursing students’ experiences in a rural clinical placement. Australian Journal of rural Health, 18 (5), 194-198.

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