So you’re heading rural for your placement. How exciting! If you’re unfamiliar with where you are heading, it can be a little daunting. With prior preparation though, going rural may just be the time of your life.
Here are our tried and tested action items to check off before you go.
Make an application for accommodation support as soon as your placement is confirmed as demand is high. See here for details of your accommodation and the facilities and equipment provided.
Make employment arrangements
Students on rural placements often gain casual or part-time employment while living in their area. We recommend contacting businesses in the area if you are seeking paid work.
Make arrangements for your family
If you have family that need looking after at home, make sure arrangements are in place for the length of your stay.
Make arrangements for your pets
Unfortunately, your furry friends are unable to stay in student accommodation, so make sure you have a plan in place for them to be cared for while you’re away.
Arrange how you are going to get there
Will you catch the bus, fly or drive to your location? Having access to a car during your rural placement is highly recommended, as public transport, Uber and taxis in some regional and rural communities can be limited or not available.
If you are driving:
Check your mobile coverage
Reception can be unreliable in some rural areas, and Wi-Fi is not always guaranteed. We recommend checking with your provider before you go. Some rural areas have student centres which offer Wi-Fi.
Research your placement location
Familiarise yourself with the area you will be living in to see what is available to you. Do a Google search to find out about population, climate, regional characteristics and local attractions. Think about your interests and what you would like to do in your down time. Look for student centres, tourist attractions, gyms, sporting clubs, shops, cinemas and more. Explore the outback through outdoor activities, hiking, bike trails and camping. Check out local Facebook pages for seasonal attractions and events such as races, rodeos and music festivals.
Research the health services available in your community
Consider your health needs and the services that will be available to you while on placement. It is a good idea to ensure you are up to date with prescriptions, GP appointments and/or specialists. Note that some rural pharmacies may not routinely stock your medication so have a full supply.
Research your placement organisation
Find out about your placement organisation. Does their website have student placement information? Is there pre-placement information to read? Who is your placement contact?
Contacting your supervisor before the placement starts is a good idea. Find out about work hours, dress code, facilities, other students who will be on site, what you need to take with you, and what is expected of you. Keep an eye out for emails from your placement provider and be prompt to reply. This is a great chance to make a good first impression.
Also save the phone number of your placement organisation in case you need to contact them.
Do a bulk shopping trip
Sometimes grocery items may be more expensive or specialist items won’t be available in some rural areas. Consider doing a shopping trip and take your favourite items with you, including medication.
Plan for your meals
Refresh your cultural awareness
Refresh yourself on your cultural safety training as you prepare to work with people from all different backgrounds.
Check out this resource (here). https://healthinfonet.ecu.edu.au/key-resources/health-professionals/cultural-safety-for-health-professionals/ or (email) our Clinical Educator (Indigenous Team) Lee Lingwoodock firstname.lastname@example.org to chat.
Reach out to other students
Connect with other students who have been or are going on rural placement. Join any university placement online groups. Make friends before you go.
There are plenty of support systems available for students going rural.
Work out what you need to take with you
Does your accommodation provide cooking facilities, laundry, fridge, beds, linen, pillows, TV, microwave, crockery and cookware?
Plan to stay in touch with your family and social network
While your rural placement is bound to be a great time making new friends and experiencing new things, you may feel some homesickness. Missing friends and family is totally normal.
Ensure you have a plan to stay in touch with your family and friends. Consider making dates for phone calls or FaceTime sessions.