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Original Research

Immersing undergraduates into an interprofessional longitudinal rural placement

Submitted: 21 June 2012
Revised: 11 October 2012
Accepted: 11 October 2012
Published: 27 February 2013

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Author(s) : Gum LF, Richards JN, Walters L, Forgan J, Lopriore M, Nobes C.

Lyn GumJanet RichardsLucie WaltersJulie ForganChris Nobes

Citation: Gum LF, Richards JN, Walters L, Forgan J, Lopriore M, Nobes C.  Immersing undergraduates into an interprofessional longitudinal rural placement. Rural and Remote Health (Internet) 2013; 13: 2271. Available: (Accessed 24 October 2017)


Introduction:  An Integrated Multidisciplinary Model of Education in Rural Settings (IMMERSe) program was piloted in 2010 in a rural region of South Australia. The aim of the program was to place students from different health programs together, in a rural environment, for one or two semesters of the academic year to promote interprofessional learning. Students were given the opportunity to participate in joint fortnightly education sessions with an emphasis on interprofessional relations and teamwork, undertaking activities such as case studies, role plays, journal club, work shadowing and invited speakers.
Methods:  A qualitative approach was used to explore student perspectives of a rural interprofessional clinical placement. Students were invited to participate in focus groups and reflective writing exercises. This data was analysed in relation to the students’ thoughts and reflections around professionalism, teamwork and collegial relationships.
Results:  The analysis resulted in three major themes: (1) interprofessional interactions with other students; (2) interprofessional interactions with other health professionals; and (3) interprofessional interactions with the community. Students in our study demonstrated a new level of respect for health professionals outside of their discipline, and gained a sense of how their own independent roles can blend or partner with others’ roles, to draw on each other’s expertise.
Conclusions:  Student learning experiences can be enhanced through engagement and integration in a rural community context. Interprofessional learning in a rural community placement can increase students’ understanding of professionalism, teamwork and collegiality, which are all important components of collaborative practice. Reflective journaling is a useful method for evaluating the student experience.

Key words: Australia, collaboration, interprofessional relations, qualitative research, rural communities.

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