Increasing interest in rural mental health work: the impact of a short term program to orientate allied health and nursing students to employment and career opportunities in a rural setting
Citation: Sutton KP, Patrick K, Maybery D, Eaton K. Increasing interest in rural mental health work: the impact of a short term program to orientate allied health and nursing students to employment and career opportunities in a rural setting. Rural and Remote Health (Internet) 2015; 15: 3344. Available: http://www.rrh.org.au/articles/subviewnew.asp?ArticleID=3344 (Accessed 23 October 2017)
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Introduction:††Ongoing workforce shortages affect the provision of mental health services to rural and remote communities. This article examines the immediate impact of a novel recruitment strategy that aims to increase the number of mental health professionals commencing their careers in a rural area of Australia.Key words: Australia, career choice, health professions, recruitment, students.
Methods:††This study utilised a sequential confirmatory mixed methods design which included both online pre- and post-program surveys and semi-structured individual interviews. Statistical analyses compared participantsí pre- and post-program survey interest in rural work/career, mental health work/career and rural mental health work/career. Content analysis was undertaken to explore interview transcripts for data that confirmed, contradicted or added depth to the quantitative findings.
Results:††Comparison of pre- and post-program surveys indicated a significant increase in participantsí interest in rural work/career and rural mental health work/career. The qualitative findings provided depth to and supported the change in interest toward working in a rural environment. Despite qualitative evidence that the program has increased participantsí knowledge and understanding of the mental health sector as a whole, overt support for the changes in interest toward mental health work was not evident.†
Conclusions:††The study provides evidence that a short-term program can change allied health and nursing studentsí interest in rural mental health work. The findings have important implications for the recruitment of mental health practitioners to underserved rural areas.
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