Perceptions towards rural and remote practice: a study of final year occupational therapy students studying in a regional university in Australia

McAuliffe, Tomomi, and Barnett, Fiona (2010) Perceptions towards rural and remote practice: a study of final year occupational therapy students studying in a regional university in Australia. Australian Occupational Therapy Journal, 57 (5). pp. 293-300.

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Abstract

Background/aim:  Rural and remote health education during undergraduate training is a strategy to alleviate the shortage of rural health professionals. Undergraduate rural exposure can be beneficial in improving students’ perceptions towards rural and remote practice as well as their decision to work rurally. This study examined James Cook University (JCU) final year occupational therapy students’ perceptions towards rural and remote practice and if their perceptions had changed over the course of their study.

Methods:  Questionnaires were administered to 58 final year occupational therapy students at JCU during a block class. Quantitative data analysis was performed on responses.

Results:  The change in the students’ career intentions from not considering to considering rural and remote practice over the duration of their study was found to be significant (exact P = 0.003). The influential factors identified in students considering rural employment included the rural location of their close family and friends (exact P = 0.006), the overall occupational therapy programme (U = 171.5, P = 0.045), good fieldwork experience (U = 144, P = 0.039) and inspiring fieldwork supervisors (U = 135.5, P = 0.01). The course curriculum was not found to influence the students’ perceptual change.

Conclusion:  This study has found that students’ perceptions towards rural and remote practice changed over the course of their university programme. A greater focus on the academic staff and fieldwork supervisors’ perceptions towards rural and remote practice may be required in the development of rural undergraduate programmes. Identification of students who have family/close friends living in rural and remote areas may encourage occupational therapists to work in rural areas.

Item ID: 12007
Item Type: Article (Refereed Research - C1)
Keywords: perceptions, career, rural & remote practice, occupational therapy students, curriculum
ISSN: 1440-1630
Date Deposited: 06 Oct 2010 02:23
FoR Codes: 11 MEDICAL AND HEALTH SCIENCES > 1103 Clinical Sciences > 110399 Clinical Sciences not elsewhere classified @ 100%
SEO Codes: 92 HEALTH > 9202 Health and Support Services > 920201 Allied Health Therapies (excl. Mental Health Services) @ 100%
Citation Count from Web of Science Web of Science 1
Downloads: Total: 1
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