Original Research

Valued but tenuous? Postgraduate clinical psychology placements for psychology students in rural and remote areas – implications for future directions


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Fiona Little1
Masters in Mental Health (Nurse Practitioner), Mental Health Academic *

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Anne Croker2
PhD, Research Fellow

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Timothy A Carey3
PhD (Clinical Psychology), Director, Centre for Remote Health


1, 2 Department of Rural Health, University of Newcastle, Tamworth, NSW 2340, Australia

3 Flinders University and Charles Darwin University, Alice Springs, Northern Territory, The Gap, NT 0870, Australia

ACCEPTED: 19 May 2019

early abstract:

Objective: This study is located at the complex intersection of healthcare service provision, healthcare workforce, and practice-based education. The study explored postgraduate clinical psychology placements in rural and remote locations and was part of a larger study known as the Mental Health Tertiary Curriculum project.

Method: A qualitative approach incorporating thematic analysis was used to exploreexperiences. Ten structured individual interviews were conducted across Australia. Participants were eight postgraduate psychology students, one service provider, and one representative of an educational institution.

Results, Qualitative: Two key themes were derivedfrom the data.The first theme, ‘Beyond expectations, but …’ recognisedthe value of clinical placementsfrom the students’ perspectives, but cautionedagainstthe challenges faced by supervisors supporting these placements. The second theme ‘Immersed in connectedness with …’ makes explicit the growing sense of belonging and professional identity that accompanied students’ engagement with their rural communities, other health professions,and their own profession.

Conclusion: This study highlights the complexity of developing workplace readiness for psychology students and provides areas for future consideration including the role of practice-based education and where this notion fits within undergraduate psychology degrees.