Key Factors Ensuring Quality of Rural Placements pp. 63-74
Authors: (Tarun Sen Gupta, Maggie Grant, Clare Jukka and Torres Woolley)
Abstract: Strategies addressing recruitment and retention of rural doctors include student selection, support, curriculum design, and appropriate rural experiences. As rural programs grow, Schools need to ensure the quality of rural placements. This paper describes the key factors critical to successful rural placements. Data was gathered from a literature review and a North Queensland study which explored with key stakeholders the factors contributing to successful 4-8 week rural placements. Changes were described to improve rural placements locally and in other settings. Key factors ensuring the quality of rural placements include: careful definition of placement aims and objectives; preparation of students, preceptors, and placement sites; support for students and preceptors at teaching sites; a quality teaching and learning environment; and regular feedback and effective communication between all key players. Preparation of students and provision of information about the site and required learning activities is the most important factor. Others include availability of local teaching networks; a positive welcome and orientation; provision of appropriate accommodation; availability of suitable leisure experiences; a match between students’ learning expectations and clinical experiences; and structures and teaching strategies to promote effective learning experiences. A continuous improvement model is described summarizing the interplay between the major factors and the key players: the School, the site and community, preceptors and students. This model may help designing or evaluating placements in other settings. These key factors can inform educationalists and policy makers in allocating resources and designing rural placements.