Perceptions of occupational therapists practising in rural Australia: a graduate perspective

Devine, Susan (2006) Perceptions of occupational therapists practising in rural Australia: a graduate perspective. Australian Occupational Therapy Journal, 53 (3). pp. 205-210.

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Abstract

Background: The difficulty in recruiting and retaining health professionals into rural and remote areas of Australia is well recognised. This study explored the perceptions of occupational therapists practising in rural locations regarding the essential skills necessary for rural practice and the ability of undergraduate education to prepare them for rural practice.

Methods: A qualitative study using a phenomenological approach was conducted using semistructured in-depth interviews. Participants included occupational therapists who were graduates of James Cook University, who were practising in rural areas in Queensland and Victoria, and academic staff.

Results: This study demonstrates that it is important for universities to develop both a mindset in their graduates for rural practice, as well as developing broader skills in addition to core discipline-specific skills. While subjects developing core occupational therapy skills are at the centre of undergraduate education, the importance of developing a broader understanding of rural health issues and skills in public health, primary health care and health promotion was emphasised.

Conclusion: The development of specific skills to become competent rural practitioners and to cope with the challenges of rural practice can be strengthened through initiatives at the undergraduate level. Ongoing commitment from all universities across Australia to include rural curriculum content has the potential to improve recruitment and retention of occupational therapists and other health professionals into rural Australia.

Item ID: 3739
Item Type: Article (Refereed Research - C1)
Keywords: curriculum; occupational therapy; rural practice
ISSN: 1440-1630
Date Deposited: 24 Nov 2009 00:53
FoR Codes: 11 MEDICAL AND HEALTH SCIENCES > 1117 Public Health and Health Services > 111708 Health and Community Services @ 100%
SEO Codes: 92 HEALTH > 9205 Specific Population Health (excl. Indigenous Health) > 920506 Rural Health @ 100%
Citation Count from Scopus Scopus 11
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Last 12 Months: 21
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