Tracking Nursing Students after their rural placement

Tracks through the Midwest to the future: trajectories of nursing students undertaking a rural clinical education and placement

Chief Investigator: Dr Sandra Hamilton

Co-investigators: Professor Sandra Thompson and Ms Michele Holloway

Nurses constitute an important part of the health workforce and this is particularly true in rural areas where they may have additional roles and responsibilities. Therefore, preparation for working rurally is very important.

A number of different models of nursing education and clinical placement occur in Geraldton and the Midwest. These include: enrolment of local residents in distance learning with tutorial support; students on a rural clinical placement without local supervisory support; students on a rural clinical placement with local supervisory support; and students who have a mandatory rural health unit coordinated by a University Department of Rural Health with a three week rural clinical placement. Therefore, the nature of the university and local support differs considerably.

These different models of education and clinical placement provide students with varied experiences. These students provide an interesting window through which to look at what works in rural nursing education and support and how this influences their subsequent career pathway. Therefore, the overall aim of this research is to evaluate these different models of rural clinical placements.


1. To describe and evaluate the unique model of student support provided by the Geraldton Universities Centre (GUC) to residents of the region who were enrolled in a nursing degree through a partner university.

2. To explore different models of clinical placement support provided in Midwest WA from a student, clinical placement coordinator, preceptor and local clinical supervisor perspective.

3. To develop a tool to assess the placement experience that informs and influences the graduates’ career pathway.

4. To enrol nursing students/graduates in a longitudinal study so that their career trajectory can be followed.

Both retrospective and prospective research approaches will be utilised to examine the aims of this project. Our initial focus will address the GUC supported graduates. Additionally we intend to enrol nursing students on the completion of their clinical placement in the Midwest for the period of 2014/2015. We will engage with the enrolling university, to understand more about the course and unit under which their time in Geraldton occurred.

Quantitative component will include demographic and course related information. Qualitative Research will draw upon information gathered through reflective journals, semi-structured interviews and focus groups. Qualitative data from interviews and focus group discussions will be subjected to thematic analysis which involves open, axial and selective coding with grouping into categories to expose patterns in the data.



































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