GROW Rural: an innovative Queensland trans-disciplinary rural immersion for undergraduate health students

Mr Andrew Hayward1, Mrs Meredith Connor1, Mr David  Wellman1

1Health Workforce Queensland , Brisbane, Australia


Introduction:Health students who have a positive rural clinical experience during university are more likely to consider rural practice after graduation. However, many of these placements are in larger regional centres and concentrate on clinical experience. GROW Rural is an innovative project that commenced in Queensland in 2017 to provide a three-day rural immersion experience each year for three years to a cohort of allied health, medicine and nursing students within communities classified as areas of workforce shortage. The aim was to change lives by introducing students to the power and agency of small rural communities by providing social, clinical, and cultural experiences built through community engagement.

Model:The project was devised in collaboration with local government, health practitioners and community members across a cluster of five Central Queensland communities. Unique features include empowerment of community members to actively participate in addressing workforce shortages through community engagement with health students.

Method:Participant disciplines include occupational therapy, physiotherapy, nutrition/dietetics, pharmacy, medicine and nursing. Participants from seven Queensland universities and included students with and without a rural background and practise intentions. Each visit is evaluated.

Results:Results from 2017 evaluation were overwhelmingly positive especially regarding rural practise intent. Evaluation results from 2018 will also be discussed.

Conclusion:Providing a unique opportunity for health students to engage with the workforce and wider community members in small communities and experience ‘real life’ rural health not only raises awareness of the changing rural landscape but may also ultimately change workforce outcomes, for students and communities.


Andrew is the Future Workforce Manager and member of the Leadership team with Health Workforce Queensland. Health Workforce Queensland are a Rural Workforce Agency funded by the Commonwealth Department of Health. As Future Workforce manager Andrew works with the Rural Health Clubs, Multi-Disciplinary health students, Interns and Registrars to increase their exposure to remote and rural general practice. Andrew was instrumental in the development of the idea for the GROW Rural program.

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