As a University Department of Rural Health, we have identified recurrent areas of service need among vulnerable rural populations, specifically the need for allied health. Concurrently, we have also identified missed opportunities for deliberate collaborative practice in rural clinical placements. This paper provides a commentary on our work in progress as we work to leverage available opportunities to provide both service from and education for health profession students on rural clinical placements.
APPROACH: We developed a transdisciplinary placement model, informed by practice theory, which encompasses pre-placement preparation, student support, host sites and clinicians, and a structured evaluation strategy. This model aims to facilitate service provision alongside of student learning about community and collaborative practice. In particular, the co-design of the model is expected to facilitate student's sense of social accountability and reduce stigma in working with vulnerable population groups.
CONCLUSION: This paper highlights the need for greater alignment between rural health education and practice, describes a placement model that is working towards this and showcases how this has been enacted in a remote community in New South Wales. More cross-sector discussion and evaluation is needed to determine the implications of adopting this model more widely if service and learning opportunities are to be equally achieved, and to determine the ways in which training and service provision can be aligned with community need, as recommended in the recent Rural Health Commissioner Report.