Centre for Remote Health’s Kate McAnnally, Annie Farthing and Tim Carey recently collaborated with Monash Rural Health and the University of Newcastle Department of Rural Health for a study funded by the Rural Heath Workforce Australia (RHWA) titled “Understanding the Decision to Relocate Rural Amongst Urban Nursing and Allied Health Students and Recent Graduates.”
Access to quality health care providers continues to be a challenge in remote and rural regions of Australia with resultant gaps in health outcomes and life expectancy.
The broad aim of the project was to obtain an understanding of the decision-making processes urban based nursing and allied health students and recent graduates undertake when they consider where to practice. With a better understanding of these processes, strategies to recruit nurses and allied health professionals to remote and rural areas could be focused and targeted for greater impact.
Our findings offer qualitative insights into what factors attract and deter allied health and nursing students and new graduates from practicing outside metropolitan areas.
One of the key findings from this study is the impact that a sense of connectedness to people, place and community has on creating a sense of belonging (rural or urban) and a positive work life balance. Another important finding is the importance of providing quality student placements to help change perceptions and norms and increase students’ intention to work in rural and remote locations.
Rural and/or remote exposure through placement is essential for urban-based students to understand the non-metropolitan context and develop and awareness of the opportunities and challenges offered by rural relocation. Recommendations arising from the study are focused around promoting and marketing remote and rural practice, providing and supporting practice experiences to students and early career professionals in remote and rural areas, supporting the transition to remote and rural practice, and developing career pathways in remote and rural Australia.
The report will be made available through the RHWA website.