Heck Yes! What drives students’ transition to working in remote and rural areas?

Annie Fathing, Susan Waller, Karin Fisher, Keith Sutton

Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstractpeer-review


Clinical placements are a key element of undergraduate training for health professionals and can be a successful recruitment strategy for the rural workforce. Recognising the positive outcomes that clinical placements can facilitate, there is a need to approach recruitment strategically and understand what drives nurses and allied health professionals to transition to working “in the bush”.
This study aimed to investigate the decision making process of urban based students and early career nurses and allied health professionals to relocate rural after graduation.
Semi -structured in-depth interviews were conducted with 34 recent graduates and 36 students. Students were undertaking studies at 7 urban based universities in either nursing or one of 5 different allied health professions. The majority of recent graduates (75%) grew up in urban areas and were employed in nursing, midwifery, or one of 8 allied health professions.
Students begin to think about employment from the mid years of their studies. Decision making is a complex process involving both personal and professional elements. Participants identified connectedness to people, place and community in rural communities which they experienced on placements as central to their practice location decision making.
As a result of participants’ responses, recommendations are made that include making remote and rural practice more attractive, clearer marketing of opportunities, including financial assistance, and greater exposure to remote and rural practice through quality clinical education placements in undergraduate studies.

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