Working in rural and regional areas can mean a lot of different things for clinical practice. As students, you may have heard lecturers and senior clinicians say that it’s great experience, but have you ever found yourself wondering why that is, and what makes this experience great? Let me break some of these reasons down.
Making professional connections
Working in rural and regional areas can mean that the number of health professionals in the areas is a lot smaller than in metropolitan areas. Health professionals in the area are likely to be working with several of your clients and can become part of your extended professional network. Working within a multidisciplinary team and knowing the right professionals to refer to in different situations becomes much easier when you have formed these connections previously, which can be an intimidating first step as a new graduate. In the country, you may also come across health professionals in your ‘personal’ time. They can turn up at the supermarket, in your hockey team, at the gym or pub on the weekend. This can really help you forge professional relationships faster than in the city!
Diversity in Caseload
In metropolitan areas, the high number of health professionals means that clinicians may specialise their practice and focus on specific practice areas. However, in regional and rural areas, access to health professionals is generally reduced, meaning you may have fewer clinicians servicing a whole town. This means that you may see individuals from a diverse background in your caseload- from infants to end of life care, speech to AAC to swallowing all in one day! No two days will be the same, and you will constantly be adapting your practice to meet the needs of your clients. The wide scope of practice is something that will remind you of your role of a lifelong learner. It will keep you academically engaged and challenge you to grow as a clinician, sometimes very quickly! You will learn to be independent, but also when to ask for support to ensure your clients are receiving the best care. The diversity is a constant challenge, but also can be the most rewarding part of working in the country.
Making a big difference in your clients lives
When you work clinically in regional and rural towns, it does not go unnoticed. Access to healthcare is a right we are all entitled to, and something that may be taken for granted in metropolitan areas. When you work in regional and rural areas, some clients may have gone long periods of time without accessing multiple healthcare services. The waiting lists are getting longer everywhere you look. Being able to provide care and support for people who may have otherwise gone without is something extremely rewarding, and you will feel that appreciation from the community, from your clients and from your team-mates too.
A bit about the lifestyle
There are lots of great benefits to the rural lifestyle which extends beyond just clinical work. Some of these include:
- Being a 5 minute drive from most locations in town means that your clinical day is spent in close proximity. No travelling for hours in your clinical day! Zipping home for lunch or into town for some shopping in your lunch break is definitely doable!
- Being a part of a close knit community where people are always happy to help.
- There are lots of places to explore- from hikes, to the coast, to wineries and boutiques.
- Outreach opportunities may arise if you are feeling up to a road trip with your colleagues! Here in our Goulburn clinic we provide outreach services to other small towns such as Crookwell, Taralga or Yass.
If working regionally and rurally is something that interests you, get in contact with us today! Our regiona /rural clinics include Goulburn and Bowral, NSW (we do also have services in Sydney).