Preparing occupational therapy students for practice in rural areas: Initial results of a scoping review

Nerida Boyd, Karen Hayes, Bronwyn Connelly, Kim Lustig, Vagner Dos Santos

Research output: Other contribution to conferencePresentation onlypeer-review


Background: Despite occupational therapists (OTs) workforce growth, the profession is maldistributed to urban spaces, limiting access to its service, and, consequently, affecting health outcomes for rural communities. Preparing students for rural practice is an effective educational strategy that improve recruitment and retention in rural areas, however, the characteristics of preparation strategies employed by education providers is unclear.
Method: We conducted a scoping review of all literature describing strategies used by OT education providers to prepare students for rural and remote practice, prior to enrolment, during the program, or on graduation. We systematically searched seven databases and conducted a focused grey literature search for manuscripts. We searched these databased in English, Spanish, French, and Portuguese languages and included manuscripts in all these languages.
Results: Initial results identified 185 manuscripts published between 1974 and 2023, majority in English, which described a range of strategies being used to prepare students for rural practice. We applied a matric framework comparing when the strategy was used (pre, during, or post enrolment) with target groups (individuals, groups, or communities), and alignment to the World Health Organisation (WHO) recommended strategies for development of rural health professionals.
Conclusion: Preliminary results suggest student placement in rural places is the main strategy used for student preparation for rural practice. Given there are nine other education strategies suggested by the WHO there may be opportunities to expand preparation practices to support student development. Further research is required to identify which strategies are most effective in preparing students for rural practice.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 14 May 2024
EventSARRAH 15th National Allied Health Rural and Remote Conference - Mildura Grand Hotel, Mildura, Australia
Duration: 21 Oct 202423 Oct 2024
Conference number: 15


ConferenceSARRAH 15th National Allied Health Rural and Remote Conference
Abbreviated titleGoing the Distance: Thriving in Rural and Remote Communities
Internet address


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