Rural supervisor & placement support staff survey – interim results and follow-up actions

Ms Trish Thorpe1

1The University Of Melbourne, Ballarat, Australia

Going Rural Health (GRH) is a Commonwealth funded program supporting nursing and allied health students from any recognised university whilst on their rural clinical placement.

Much of the literature on rural placements and rural placement quality has been conducted from the perspective of students or university placement co-ordinators, and comparatively few from the perspective of rural host organisation employees (Maloney et al 2013, Smith et al 2015, Trede et al 2014).

This study investigates the experiences of supervisors and placement support staff facilitating rural student placements for nursing and allied health students.

Responses were collected via an online self-administered survey tool from a convenience sample of participants.

Generally, the more rural a participant, the larger number of placement roles they undertook. Challenges to supporting student placements included existing workload, the amount of placement administration, and designing learning tasks with varying levels of competence. This was more of a challenge with increasing rurality, for allied health disciplines, and for those who worked across both regional and rural locations. GRH support was noted as an enabler to taking students. Respondents indicated that supervisor training, a supervisor support network, and mentoring support would better equip them to host student placements.

GRH has increased supervisor training, introduced a mentoring program, a new graduate education series, and community of support sessions for placement staff, to assist in placement support. More GRH support is to be provided for sites in more rural locations, particularly for allied health.


Maloney, P., Stagnitti, K., & Schoo, A. (2013). Barriers and enablers to clinical fieldwork education in rural public and private allied health practice. Higher Education Research & Development (HERDSA), 32(3), pp 420-435, DOI:

Smith, M., Lloyd, G., Lbozin, S., Bartel, C. & Medlicott, K. (2015). Increasing quality and quantity of student placements in smaller rural health services: It can be done. The Australian Journal of Rural Health 23(4), pp 243-246. DOI:

Trede, F., McEwan, C, Kenny, A. & O’Meara, P. (2014). Supervisors’ experiences of workplace supervision of nursing and paramedic students in rural settings: A scoping review. Nurse Education Today 34(5), pp 783-788. DOI:


Trish Thorpe is the Associate Lecturer, Rural Placement Co-ordinator for the Going Rural Health program in Ballarat, at the University of Melbourne Department of Rural Health campus. She has been with the program since 2016. Trish has a Bachelor of Biological Sciences, a Masters of Clinical Biochemistry, and a Graduate Diploma of Education. She has worked in allied health since 1994, in pathology laboratories at Melbourne, Ballarat and Geelong, managing and training staff and students. Trish is currently responsible for promoting, developing, and supporting nursing and allied health placements in rural Victoria.

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