Exploring the workplace location decisions of speech pathology graduates from a regional university

Research output: Other contribution to conferenceAbstractpeer-review


Rural communities’ access to speech-language pathology services is impacted by a lack of speech-language pathologists (SLPs) in rural areas, resulting in inequitable communication and swallowing outcomes. The rural pipeline model attempts to explain the pathway for recruitment of health professionals into the rural workforce. However, research exploring rural recruitment and retention factors for speech pathology is lacking.

This research aimed to explore the experiences and perspectives of speech pathology graduates from a regional university regarding the factors influencing their workplace decisions and evaluate the applicability of the rural pipeline in explaining the rural recruitment of SLPs.

Three group interviews were conducted with graduates from a regional university. An inductive thematic analysis of the interviews was then conducted to identify recurrent themes and explore potential relationships between these themes. The findings of the thematic analysis were then analysed in relation to the rural pipeline model to identify concurrence and deviation from this model.

Four themes were identified: interpersonal connection, ambition, opportunity, and lifestyle. Each theme was applicable across several life stages, from the decision to study through to workplace location. It was found that the interaction between the themes, rather than a hierarchy of the themes, shaped each SLP’s individual pathway to working rurally.

There are a range of interacting factors at each life stage that influence SLPs’ workplace decisions. While the rural pipeline helps us understand the progression of individuals from rural health career exposure to rural employment, it inadequately captures the interdependent impact of belonging, personal ambition, education opportunities and lifestyle preferences.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - May 2021


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