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Workshops On Rural Careers In Health For Year 10 Students

The Remote and Rural

Training Unit in Dubbo NSW has taken a proactive approach to two familiar

problems that face small rural towns: the departure of young people from

country towns and the inability of these towns to attract and retain health

care workers. It is well documented that there are severe shortages of

trained health professionals in remote and rural regions throughout Australia.

Studies in Australia and overseas indicate that professionals with a rural

background are the ones most likely to return to the country to practice

after training. Students from country areas, however, are under-represented

in health-related courses in universities and other training institutions.


The Rural Schools

for Health Careers Workshop is one of the core activities of the Remote

and Rural Health Training Unit. It encourages Year 10 students from north-west

New South Wales to consider a career in health. The fundamental aim of

the workshops is that many of the students attending will ultimately decide

upon a career in health.


Participants of the July 2000 Fourth Annual Rural Schools for Health Careers


Participants of the July 2000 Fourth Annual Rural Schools for Health Careers

Workshop held in Dubbo. Armed with enthusiams and trick questions for

health professionals on their tour of the Dubbo Base Hospital.

What the Program does

The workshop is a

five-day residential held in Dubbo. It provides information and a positive

experience to encourage the student's interest while promoting the benefits

and diversity of a career in health. It is hoped that a percentage of

students who choose a career in health will ultimately return to a rural

or remote area once they are qualified thus providing rural areas with

health professionals who have a strong affiliation with rural life.

Currently the project

is available to students from both public and private schools in the Macquarie

and Far West Area Health Service areas of NSW.

The Program has been

running since 1997. Approximately 20 Year 10 students attend the workshop

each year. The participants come from communities such as Bourke, Coonabarabran,

Dubbo, Gilgandra, Narromine, Walgett and Wellington.

The students were

interested in a diverse range of health career areas such as:

  • diversional


  • massage therapy
  • rehabilitation


  • medicine
  • nursing
  • osteopathy
  • paramedicine
  • psychology
  • speech pathology
  • naturopathy
  • nutrition
  • chiropractic
  • pathology
  • radiography
  • medical research
  • nuclear medicine
  • occupational


  • dietician
  • physiotherapy
  • sports medicine
  • dentistry

The Program also

involved current university students from various regional areas speaking

to the participants about their university experience.

What makes it successful

Although a comprehensive

study needs to be carried out, one indicator of the success of this program

so far, is that 10 previous participants of the program were accepted

into Medicine in 2001 - an outstanding achievement for country scholarship

and hard work.

Nevertheless other

signs of success can be measured.

Due to the

nature of the residential workshop and the intensity of the five-day

Program the Training Unit staff have been able to develop a close

relationship with workshop participants. This enables us to give specific

support tailored to each individual and creates a relationship where

students feel free to approach the Training Unit staff and other health

professionals both during and outside the workshop. Following the

workshop we have been able to directly approach participants to inform

them of opportunities available which would enhance the likelihood

of them successfully gaining entry into a health career. This year

we had significant numbers of the participants returning to the Unit

for assistance with the arrangement of Year 10 work experience


and Evaluation of the Rural Schools for Health Careers Workshop, 1999

Evaluation, page 7).


Difficulties encountered

One problem experienced

is that the Program is conducted during school holidays. The students

are expected to devote half their holidays to the workshop. However, student

reluctance has largely been overcome by providing an active social program

during the evenings. This includes sporting activities and events like

going to the cinema and dining out.

Funding sources

The Remote and Rural

Health Training Unit receives a grant from the Rural Doctors' Network

which enables the Program to fully subsidise student attendance.