Improving health student placement experiences in rural Tasmania: The whole of community facilitator model of support
Health professionals require specific knowledge and a broad range of skills and attributes to work and reside in rural environments. It is vital students are offered the opportunity to undertake a rural professional experience placement (PEP) to ensure they develop a breadth of understanding of healthcare practice with opportunities to apply for rural positions after graduation. As such, it is imperative students have a positive rural placement experience which extends to their supervisors. Past research identifies barriers to a positive health placement experience relates to limited exposure to diverse placement environments and multidisciplinary learning opportunities for students and supervisors (Smith et al., 2017). To overcome these barriers the Whole of Community Facilitator (WOCF) model of support was implemented in fourteen locations throughout rural Tasmania. This model engages a dedicated health professional who is responsible for learning and teaching and support for students and supervisors, whilst also building capacity and capability of additional organisations to host students. The WOCF is an important communication link between the student, healthcare organisation and students’ universities. This paper examines the WOCF model of support stage one evaluation findings. Overall, this model was well received by students, supervisors and organisations; particularly in the areas of student welcoming and learning and teaching, support and guidance. However, the WOCF role requires further development to address their competing work demands, time constraints and healthcare organisation requirements. Despite these, the model enables healthcare organisations and supervisors to focus on preparing the next generation of rural health practitioners.
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