More student nurses needed for the bush

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New efforts to promote nursing careers outside the main cities are needed to encourage graduates to work in rural areas according to new research.

Nursing students know little about initiatives and incentives aimed at reducing the shortage of rural and regional health professionals according to a study commissioned by Rural Health Workforce Australia.

Universities should increase the number of places in their nursing and allied health programs for rural and remote students to help tackle the shortage of health professionals outside metropolitan Australia, it says.

The report calls on universities to boost the number of rural clinical placements available to students and the amount of rural health practice content in curriculums reported The Australian.

Researchers claim there is a lack of awareness of the practice opportunities in rural areas among students and teaching staff at urban universities.

They point out that the federal government does not fund rural placements for nursing and allied health students to the same extent as it did for medical students.

“Doctors are important but they’re not the only answer to addressing the disparity in health outcomes between rural and metropolitan Australia,” says Dr Tony Smith, deputy director of Newcastle University’s Department of Rural Health.

Experts say the recent $4.2 million cut to annual Commonwealth scholarships for allied health will exacerbate the shortage of health professionals in the bush.

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