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Faculty staff and rural placement supervisors' pre- and post-placement perceptions of a clinical rural placement programme in NSW Australia

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Abstract

Introduction

Staff views on a rural clinical placement involving 4th year dental undergraduates from the University of Sydney (Australia) were collected in order to monitor whether the programme was feasible and acceptable to the academic Faculty Staff and the rural clinical supervisors.

Materials and methods

An evaluation of the rural placement programme was undertaken in 2009 at three rural sites in New South Wales (Australia). Semi-structured pre- and post-placement in person interviews recorded the views of three University Faculty Staff whilst similar data were collected by telephone interviews for three supervising clinicians at the rural clinical sites. Interviews gathered opinions on the organisation, implementation and outcomes of the rural placement programme.

Results

Eight qualitative analysis identified themes were specified and included communication, programme duration, effect on students and staff, benefits of the programme, rural intentions, programme sustainability and the success of the programme. Positive pre-placement aspects were potentially good clinical experience, new environment, sharing of knowledge and interaction with a rural community. Negative issues were anxieties about students' clinical ability to offer a service, missing lectures and maintaining clinical training quotas. The post-placement themes were generally positive; staff reported that the students enjoyed the rural community experience, their communication and clinical skills improved.

Conclusion

According to the staff, the placement programme was feasible and provided acceptable positive clinical and personal development for the students. This research will help educators planning to incorporate a rural clinical programme into a University curriculum.

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