Go Rural Virtually: connecting health students with QLD communities

  • Two women walking down a hallway
    Goondir Health Services in south-west Queensland.
  • Go rural field being harvested

Go Rural Virtually (GRV) provides Queensland health students with a virtual rural experience that explores the benefits and challenges of rural health practice, and the many pathways into a rural career, by showcasing rural locations and community-based health services.

GRV was developed by Health Workforce Queensland (HWQ) in response to the limitations COVID-19 imposed on delivering face-to-face rural immersion events, with the intention of maintaining student interest and intent to practice rurally. Since its launch in October 2020, GRV health students have virtually visited Longreach, Mount Isa and Goondir Health Services in south-west Queensland.

During GRV, students experience a virtual tour of the community; participate in interactive discussions with a live panel made up of local doctors, nurses, midwives and allied health professionals; as well as submit questions in real time. GRV allows the students to experience the collegiality of rural health professionals, appreciate the value of interprofessional collaboration and gain an understanding of the vital role that belonging to a community plays both within and outside the workplace. Topics discussed at GRV to date include:

  • cultural awareness and preparedness
  • overcoming social isolation and the challenge of being away from family and friends
  • the value of having a supportive community
  • the importance of mental health in a remote and rural location
  • the benefits of collaborative practice and opportunities to upskill and diversify their scope of practice
  • rural clinical placements
  • navigating the road to rural employment
  • professional development opportunities.

Importantly, delivering GRV online has enabled HWQ to significantly expand its student reach in comparison to the customary face-to-face programs and activities.

By taking a holistic approach, the GRV model plants the seeds to grow our future rural workforce. It encourages the involvement of local health professionals and services to participate in a workforce solution. This means health professionals are provided an opportunity to engage a new cohort, outline how their career pathway led them to rural employment and showcase their community. Importantly, GRV actively keeps the rural conversation going beyond the virtual by connecting health professionals and services with rural workforce agencies, to promote Queensland rural locations as clinical placement sites.

Reframing how students experience rural communities has allowed HWQ to take a new approach to the enduring dilemma of creating sustainable career pathways to the bush.

Visit the Health Workforce Queensland website to keep up to date for all future GRV events.

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