Objective: To quantify the financial impact of rural clinical placements on medical, nursing and allied health students in rural Australia.
Design: The Careers in Health Tracking Survey provided data on whether students were employed, usual weekly hours of employment and a range of covariates, such as age, sex, course of study, marital status, dependants and rural or urban origin.
Participants: A total of 121 students from a range of health professions completed the Careers in Health Tracking Survey while on rural placement at the Northern Rivers University Department of Rural Health.
Outcome measures: Survey data.
Results: Forty-one per cent of respondents were working immediately before their clinical placements. Nursing students worked the longest hours by far and were significantly more financially disadvantaged than both medical and allied health students (P < 0.01). Scholarship support was unevenly distributed, with nursing and allied health students being relatively under-supported in relation to lost earnings.
Conclusion: Recruitment of students can be an effective strategy to address the rural health workforce shortage throughout Australia. However, there are a number of financial disincentives for students to undertake rural clinical placements. Additional support for some disciplines is needed to provide equitable distribution of scholarship support to offset this financial burden. Establishing an employment scheme for students on rural clinical placements and a scholarship for income replacement where employment is not available would also alleviate income loss.
- allied health personnel
- health manpower
- personnel recruitment
- rural health
- student cost