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Rural Remote Health. 2015 Oct-Dec;15(4):3303. Epub 2015 Nov 11.

Rural and remote young people's health career decision making within a health workforce development program: a qualitative exploration.

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Rural Clinical School, Flinders University, Adelaide, South Australia, Australia.
Primary Health Care, Broken Hill University Department of Rural Health, The University of Sydney, Broken Hill, New South Wales, Australia .
Broken Hill University Department of Rural Health, The University of Sydney, Broken Hill, New South Wales, Australia .
Sydney Medical School-Northern, The University of Sydney, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia .



One strategy aimed at resolving ongoing health workforce shortages in rural and remote settings has been to implement workforce development initiatives involving the early activation and development of health career aspirations and intentions among young people in these settings. This strategy aligns with the considerable evidence showing that rural background is a strong predictor of rural practice intentions and preferences. The Broken Hill Regional Health Career Academy Program (BHRHCAP) is an initiative aimed at addressing local health workforce challenges by helping young people in the region develop and further their health career aspirations and goals. This article reports the factors impacting on rural and remote youths' health career decision-making within the context of a health workforce development program.


Data were collected using interviews and focus groups with a range of stakeholders involved in the BHRHCAP including local secondary school students, secondary school teachers, career advisors, school principals, parents, and pre-graduate health students undertaking a clinical placement in Broken Hill, and local clinicians. Data interpretation was informed by the theoretical constructs articulated within socio cognitive career theory.


Young people's career decision-making in the context of a local health workforce development program was influenced by a range of personal, contextual and experiential factors. These included personal factors related to young people's career goals and motivations and their confidence to engage in career decision-making, contextual factors related to BHRHCAP program design and structure as well as the visibility and accessibility of health career pathways in a rural setting, and experiential factors related to the interaction and engagement between young people and role models or influential others in the health and education sectors.


This study provided theoretical insight into the broader range of interrelating and complex personal, contextual and experiential factors impacting on rural and remote youths' career decision-making within a health workforce development initiative.


Allied Health; Australia/Pacific; Medical; Nursing; Qualitative Research; Workforce; Youth

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