Remotely satisfied: The experiences of health students undertaking Work Integrated Learning placements in the Northern Territory

Dr  Narelle  Campbell1, Annie Farthing2, Jessie  Anderson2, Leigh Moore1, Susan Witt1

1Flinders NT, Darwin, Australia, 2Centre for Remote Health, Alice Springs, Australia

Background: Placing undergraduate health students in underserved areas with a view to them taking up employment after graduation is a strategy of the Commonwealth government funded Rural Health Multidisciplinary Training (RHMT) program.  Students who are satisfied with their placements indicate a strong intention to return to take up remote and rural practice after graduation (see Smith et al 2018 and Smith et al 2017).  This presentation investigates the experiences and perceptions of nursing and allied health students who undertook a placement in the Northern Territory, in areas classified by the Modified Monash Model as MMM5, MMM6 and MMM7.

Method: Flinders NT auspices the RHMT program in the Northern Territory, supporting additional nursing and allied health placements.  After each placement, students are invited to participate in an anonymous survey which gathers a mix of quantitative and qualitative data about their placements.

Results: Over 2017 and 2018 the survey had a 33% response rate. Data from 309 nursing and allied health students will be presented with 92% indicating they were satisfied with their placement experience; 74% rating their experience as better or much better than their metropolitan placement/s; and 82% indicating the placement encouraged them to consider living and working in a rural or remote location after graduation.

Discussion:  Survey data demonstrates that students undertaking placements in the NT are very satisfied with the quality of their placement and their experiences have influenced them to consider returning.  It also shows the students rate their experiences in the NT as being generally “better than” previous experiences in metropolitan areas.

Flinders NT is commencing a Work Location Outcomes study in 2019 that will track the students for 10 years to see if intention has translated into outcomes and what the career trajectory of these placement students looks like.

Smith, T. et al 2018 DOI: 10.2147/JMDH.S150623

Smith, T. et al 2017 doi:10.1111/ajr.12375


Annie Farthing has lived in Central Australia since 1992 working as a physiotherapist in urban and remote contexts, in community health, rehabilitation, aged care, disability and chronic disease. Annie is currently an academic at the Centre for Remote Health developing new and innovative placement opportunities for Allied Health students, as well as working as a locum for Tangentyere Council in their Integrated Team Care Program.

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