Profile and rural exposure for nursing and allied health students at two Australian Universities: A retrospective cohort study

Tony Smith, Keith Sutton, Alison Beauchamp, Julie Depczynski, Leanne Brown, Karin Fisher, Susan Waller, Luke Wakely, Darryl Maybery, Vincent L. Versace

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5 Citations (Scopus)


Objective: Linking enrolment and professional placement data for students' from 2 universities, this study compares characteristics across universities and health disciplines. The study explores associations between students' location of origin and frequency, duration and type of placements. Design: Retrospective cohort data linkage. Setting: Two Australian universities, Monash University and the University of Newcastle. Participants: Students who completed medical radiation science, nursing, occupational therapy, pharmacy or physiotherapy at either university between 2 February 2017 and 28 February 2018. Interventions: Location of origin, university and discipline of enrolment. Main outcome measure(s): Main measures were whether graduates had multiple rural placements, number of rural placements and cumulative rural placement days. Location of origin, discipline and university of enrolment were the main explanatory variables. Secondary dependent variables were age, sex, socio-economic indices for location of origin, and available placements. Results: A total of 1,315 students were included, of which 22.1% were of rural origin. The odds of rural origin students undertaking a rural placement was more than 4.5 times greater than for urban origin students. A higher proportion of rural origin students had multiple rural placement (56.0% vs 14.9%), with a higher mean number of rural placement days. Public hospitals were the most common placement type, with fewer in primary care, mental health or aged care. Conclusions: There is a positive association between rural origin and rural placements in nursing and allied health. To help strengthen recruitment and retention of graduates this association could be further exploited, while being inclusive of non-rural students.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)21-33
Number of pages13
JournalThe Australian Journal of Rural Health
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2021


  • health professions
  • health workforce
  • Rural health
  • tertiary education

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