Challenges and triumphs in expanding Undergraduate Nursing Placements in the Northern Territory – Workforce development in Remote Health

Ms Jessie Anderson1

1Centre For Remote Health, Alice Springs, NT


In recent years, the Commonwealth government has committed additional funding to encourage nursing and allied health students to undertake placements in Rural and Remote regions throughout Australia through the Rural Health Multidisciplinary Training Program (RHMTP). This is in line with research that indicates a positive placement experience is a factor in the decision to work in rural and remote areas on graduation and beyond.

While a focus of this funding is on encouraging local health students to remain in their rural area after graduation, for remote regions of the Northern Territory there is not enough local graduates to supply the health workforce needs. In addition, many NT students chose to leave the Territory to study. In addition to supporting local students, the Flinders NT Remote Inter-Professional Placement Learning (RIPPL) Team has developed a program of supporting Nursing and Allied Health students from over 30 different universities to experience a placement in the NT.

Challenges have abounded in the complexities of coordinating students, academics, universities and health services across the vast distances of the Northern Territory. Ensuring supervisors are supported and students have the necessary preparation, orientation, supervision and support is essential.

However the triumphs continue. Student demand is high, allowing for a selective process aimed at identifying students that will not only benefit from the remote experience but also those who are best able to manage the challenges of remote life. Student feedback indicates a high level of satisfaction with the educational and cultural outcomes of the placements. Applications for Graduate Programs and data from student satisfaction surveys indicates that student intention to return to the NT on graduation is also high.

This Paper discusses the development of a unique program to create pathways for student nurses interested in a career in remote health in the Northern Territory and beyond.


Jessie Anderson, RN, BN (Hons), MNurs (Emerg)
Nursing Lecturer at the Centre for Remote Health, Flinders NT, Alice Springs.
Coordinator of RHMT supported Nursing placements in the Northern Territory.