Rural Physiotherapy Clinical Schools. Perspectives of Students, Clinical Supervisors and Workplace Learning Academics - Final Report 2024

Research output: Book/ReportCommissioned report (public)


Clinical placements in rural areas for undergraduate health students is a strategy used worldwide to promote growth of the health workforce in rural and remote areas. Evidence suggests that positive clinical practice experiences during undergraduate medical training may influence intention to practice rurally after graduation, particularly for students of a rural background (Holst, 2020) and during the years immediately following graduation (Gupta et al., 2019). Longer rotations in rural locations increase the association between rural clinical placements and employment of medical graduates in rural locations (Fuller et al., 2021). Less is known about the provision of rural clinical placements for allied health students as a means of promoting the rural allied health workforce (Seaman et al., 2022).
An increase in the number of rural physiotherapy clinical placements in NSW has been demonstrated (Johnston et al., 2017), with physiotherapy students achieving higher clinical placement grades in these rural locations when compared to metropolitan placements (Johnston et al., 2017). This suggests rural physiotherapy clinical placements create positive learning outcomes for undergraduate students, yet little is known about the quality of the student experience. Surveys of medical and physiotherapy students completing rural clinical placements highlight the need to consider factors beyond the clinical placement itself to improve student experience (Elliott et al., 2023; White & Humphreys, 2014). Factors such as financial, social, health, and familial supports contribute to overall student placement experience in rural clinical schools (Elliott et al., 2023). Social-cultural factors have also been identified by physiotherapy students as key contributors to the rural placement experience, specifically accommodation and financial support, and availability of community facilities and activities to reduce isolation on weekends (White & Humphreys, 2014).
In line with these student experience studies, a recently published scoping review (Green et al., 2022) identified features that underpin quality of rural health placements including: (1) learning and teaching in a rural context; (2) rural student placement characteristics; (3) key relationships; and (4) required infrastructure. Against the background of this emerging evidence base, the current project was conducted in partnership between Charles Sturt University and the Rural Physiotherapy Clinical Schools in Western NSW and Murrumbidgee Local Health Districts to better understand the current experiences of physiotherapy students, clinical supervisors, and workplace learning (WPL) academics.
Original languageEnglish
PublisherCharles Sturt University
Number of pages48
ISBN (Electronic)978-1-86-467448-4
ISBN (Print)978-1-86-467448-4
Publication statusPublished - 22 Apr 2024


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