‘Each person’s experience is different’: speech-language pathologists’ perspectives regarding their pathway to the Australian rural workforce

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

In Australia, difficulty recruiting speech-language pathologists (SLPs) into the rural health workforce contributes to reduced accessibility of services and inequitable communication and swallowing outcomes in rural communities. This research explored the experiences and perspectives of speech-language pathology graduates from a regional university regarding their pathway to the rural health workforce. Using a qualitative research design involving semi-structured focus groups, the role and interaction of factors that influenced their rural pathway were examined. The study also investigated how the pathways of speech-language pathology graduates reflected and/or deviated from those identified within other health professions. Participants included eight graduates from a regional university. All participants were female, grew up in rural areas and worked rurally. Reflexive thematic analysis with an inductive approach was conducted to identify and analyze recurring patterns of meaning. Three key themes were identified: returning home and coming ‘full circle back’, ‘having [… the] opportunity’, and working in a team is ‘very important’. A key finding of this study was that connectedness to family, friends, partners, rural communities, supervisors, and other health professionals was strongly influential in participants’ pathway to the rural health workforce. This study also revealed individualized, unique interactions between factors and variations across life stages. The findings of this study suggest that providing accessible speech-language pathology education to rural students and providing quality support and professional development in workplaces may be beneficial in addressing current workforce shortages.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)203-213
Number of pages11
JournalSpeech, Language and Hearing
Volume26
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2023

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