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Ruralization of students’ horizons: insights into Australian health professional students’ rural and remote placements


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Smith, T, Cross, M ORCID: 0000-0001-5526-4650, Waller, S, Chambers, H, Farthing, A, Barraclough, F, Pit, SW, Sutton, K, Muyambi, K, King, S and Anderson, J 2018 , 'Ruralization of students’ horizons: insights into Australian health professional students’ rural and remote placements' , Journal of multidisciplinary healthcare, vol. 11 , pp. 85-97 , doi: 10.2147/JMDH.S150623.

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Introduction: Health workforce shortages have driven the Australian and other Western governmentsto invest in engaging more health professional students in rural and remote placements.The aim of this qualitative study was to provide an understanding of the lived experiences ofstudents undertaking placements in various nonmetropolitan locations across Australia. In additionto providing their suggestions to improve rural placements, the study provides insight intofactors contributing to positive and negative experiences that influence students’ future ruralpractice intentions.Methods: Responses to open-ended survey questions from 3,204 students from multiple healthprofessions and universities were analyzed using two independent methods applied concurrently:manual thematic analysis and computerized content analysis using Leximancer software.Results: The core concept identified from the thematic analysis was “ruralization of students’horizons,” a construct representing the importance of preparing health professional students forpractice in nonmetropolitan locations. Ruralization embodies three interrelated themes, “preparationand support,” “rural or remote health experience,” and “rural lifestyle and socialization,”each of which includes multiple subthemes. From the content analysis, factors that promotedstudents’ rural practice intentions were having a “positive” practice experience, interactionswith “supportive staff,” and interactions with the “community” in general. It was apparent that“difficulties,” eg, with “accommodation,” “Internet” access, “transport,” and “financial” support,negatively impacted students’ placement experience and rural practice intentions.Conclusions: The study findings have policy and practice implications for continuing tosupport students undertaking regional, rural, and remote placements and preparing them forfuture practice in nonmetropolitan locations. This study may, therefore, further inform ongoingstrategies for improving rural placement experiences and enhancing rural health workforcerecruitment, retention, and capacity building.

Item Type: Article
Authors/Creators:Smith, T and Cross, M and Waller, S and Chambers, H and Farthing, A and Barraclough, F and Pit, SW and Sutton, K and Muyambi, K and King, S and Anderson, J
Keywords: clinical placement, fieldwork, multidisciplinary, rural health workforce, undergraduate education
Journal or Publication Title: Journal of multidisciplinary healthcare
Publisher: Dove Medical Press
ISSN: 1178-2390
DOI / ID Number: 10.2147/JMDH.S150623
Copyright Information:

© 2018 The Authors. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported (CC BY-NC 3.0)

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