Introducing First Year Nursing Students to Regional and Rural Interprofessional Health care

Mrs Helen Goodwin1

1Southern Queensland Rural Health, Toowoomba, Australia


It is well documented that there is a shortage of health professionals worldwide and that challenges exist in recruiting nurses to rural areas. Research has highlighted the correlation between students with a rural background and the choice to pursue rural practice.  However, evidence is growing that providing a positive and supported rural placement experience, whether for a week or a semester, can be a stronger predictor of future rural practice than having a rural background.

This study aims to explore how introducing first year nursing students to an observational placement opportunity, in regional and rural Queensland, at the beginning of their university degree program could influence their intention to choose rural clinical placement opportunities in the future.

The four-day observational placement introduces first year nursing students to health services across a variety of domains and settings within an interprofessional context. The observational placement, supported by Southern Queensland Rural Health, includes site visits to acute health services such as hospital emergency and maternity, chronic health services such as mental health and aged care as well as community services such as homelessness and disability care.  The four-day experience also includes community involvement and events, sessions on mindfulness and mental wellbeing, and visits to local landmarks.

Evaluation of the students’ experience is measured with pre and post questionnaires, aimed at identifying what aspects of the experience may inspire them to choose a rural placement later in their degree program.


Helen has been a nurse and midwife in the UK, Canada and Australia. Rural practice in Canada which included independent midwifery practice offered a career high. She holds a bachelor degree in Nursing, a diploma in Midwifery and a masters degree in Women’s Health. She has been an educator in nursing and midwifery for The University of Queensland for the last ten years and her current role as a clinical educator for Southern Queensland Rural Health is allowing her to share her passion in the Darling Downs Health and Southwest Hospital and Health regions.