Barriers and opportunities to clinical placements in regional, rural and remote settings

Barriers and opportunities to clinical placements in regional, rural and remote settings Conference Paper

15th National Rural Health Conference: Better together!

  • Author(s): Eklom, Bonnie
  • Secondary Author(s): Coleman, Leanne
  • Published: 2019

Abstract: Rural and remote Australia continues to experience worse health outcomes and poorer access to health services compared to inner metropolitan Australia. Geographic maldistribution of the health workforce is a significant barrier to access to health services in rural and remote communities. A key mechanism to address this maldistribution and to produce graduates with regional, rural and remote career intentions has been to provide students with positive clinical placement experiences in these settings. There have been a number of national initiatives to support health and medicine students to undertake regional, rural and remote clinical training opportunities, funded by the Commonwealth government through programs such as Health Workforce Australia, the University Rural Departments of Health, Rural Clinical Training and Support and Clinical Training Funding and most recently the Rural Health Multidisciplinary Training Program. Despite these and other initiatives, providing students with positive clinical placement experiences in these settings remains an ongoing challenge. The cost of providing, safe, quality, clinical training within regional, rural, remote settings and geographically isolated services is more expensive than providing equivalent training in metropolitan settings, and securing adequate supervision for students is often difficult. This is particularly relevant for allied health students, where accreditation requirements can prevent inter-professional supervision and practice, which is often the only viable supervisory model in rural and remote locations. Within northern Australia, James Cook University (JCU) has a long history of commitment to developing a professional, work-ready workforce to service the health needs of rural, remote, tropical and Indigenous Australia. JCU developed the first of the new medical schools in Australia in 1999 and has rolled out a range of health professional programs including: clinical exercise physiology, dentistry, occupational therapy, nursing, pharmacy, physiotherapy, psychology, speech pathology and sports and exercise science. JCU has an explicit mission to address the health workforce needs of northern Australia and operates a distributed regional education model that provides significant regional, rural and remote clinical placement experiences for students. This paper will explore the key barriers and facilitators to providing safe and effective clinical placements in rural and remote locations and the impact of these placements on the rural and remote workforce, particularly within northern Australia.

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Suggested Citation
Eklom, Bonnie, 2019, Barriers and opportunities to clinical placements in regional, rural and remote settings, Conference Paper, viewed 08 April 2020, https://www.nintione.com.au/?p=15830.

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