Laura Rutherford was uncertain about the career direction of her physiotherapy degree before joining GROW Rural, a rural immersion program for health and medical students from Health Workforce Queensland.
“I was looking for mentors to show me how to reconcile a successful health career with staying in rural areas,” she said “GROW showed me that going rural isn’t a full stop on a career.”
As she embarks on her rural practice, Laura is grateful for the community and professional connections she made. “It gave me confidence to back myself and my aspirations … (and) has shown me the gaps and some of the solutions to all the Rural, Health and Women’s issues I now advocate around,” she said.
26 August 2022
No matter where you are
Rural & Remote Australia
Health Workforce Queensland’s GROW Rural is one of several immersion programs delivered by Rural Workforce Agencies.
Established in 2017, GROW Rural is a longitudinal rural immersion program for first year medical, nursing, midwifery, dentistry and allied health students based in Queensland who come together annually for three consecutive years to be part of, and learn from, specific rural communities.
Underpinning the ethos of GROW Rural is fostering a team culture reflective of the team-based approach and collaborative practice which defines rural health care. The sense of community generated within the student group over the three-year program is enhanced by scenario-based skill sessions with local health professionals, ongoing interactions with GROW Rural communities through involvement in community-led events and enjoying rural hospitality as billets. GROW Rural also places great importance on the value of cultural awareness and safety by working alongside First Nations peoples to connect students with Indigenous lands, history and culture.
Integral to the success of GROW Rural is the collaborative approach taken when working with participating communities, service providers and health professionals to take the lead on program development and facilitation. Importantly, GROW Rural’s whole of community approach encourages and gives community members, organisations and service providers the agency to participate in growing their region’s future workforce.
By cultivating positive relational interactions with both the health workforce community and broader community GROW Rural encourages health students to return to rural communities for their clinical placements and to consider rural practice as a future career opportunity.
In the words of a Theodore community member:
It has given the Theodore community the opportunity to showcase what we have to offer, and how the community can work together to make programs such as GROW rural work. Long term it is hoped that the students on the program will return to rural areas to work.
And from a participant:
The education that GROW Rural provides goes far beyond the four walls of a classroom. To networking in a country pub, to case studies and discussions in local practices with local health practitioners all the way through to the banks of irrigation paddocks. The program really encompasses all aspects of rural living and working, and I feel so grateful that I am able to develop my knowledge and skills alongside my peers. Thank you to the whole team for putting together a program that was the perfect balance of engaging and educational!
GROW Rural SWQ student 2020.
Contact Health Workforce Queensland for more information:
Future Workforce Team
07 3105 7800
or the RWA in your state for details of the student programs on offer nationally.