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Aust J Rural Health. 2006 Feb;14(1):14-9.

Going country: rural student placement factors associated with future rural employment in nursing and allied health.

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Combined Universities Centre for Rural Health, University of Western Australia, Geraldton.



To measure the rate and predictors of health science graduates joining the rural health workforce following a rural placement.


Longitudinal survey including the years immediately prior to and post graduation.


Western Australian health sciences graduates contacted by email and/or phone.


Allied health and nursing students from urban campuses of three Western Australian universities who had taken a rural placement in their final year of study between 2000 and 2003.


Location of employment six months or more after graduation.


Of 429 participating allied health and nursing graduates, 25% had entered the rural workforce. Factors with a positive bivariate association with rural employment were: rural background, health discipline, self-reported value of placement, non-compulsory rural placement, and placements of four weeks or less. After controlling for rural background, the value and duration of the placement were significantly associated with rural employment.


This study augments previous work showing that any prior rural background is a significant predictor of rural work. Rural practitioners of both urban and rural origin who undertake voluntary rural placements are more likely to enter rural practice and consequently mandatory placements may not be helpful to increasing the rural workforce. The quality of a placement is a highly significant factor associated with future workplace choice, the details of which need to be further investigated.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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