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Chelsi Mier, Social work student, Edith Cowan University

From July to October 2023, I completed a 500-hour placement in Port Hedland and South Hedland at not-for-profit agency Youth Involvement Council (YIC), which works primarily with at-risk Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander children and young people.

Completing my placement in the Pilbara exposed me to unique learnings and diverse experiences that have helped shape my professional and personal identity. The most profound moment during my placement has been learning about the rich connection to traditional culture that Aboriginal people practice in the region and the generosity people had in sharing this with me. I have gained critical skills in ensuring I am working in a culturally safe and competent manner and learnt the importance of building connection and consultation. The Pilbara can be a harsh environment to live in and gaining insight into the accompanying challenges has provided me with context and perspective to help me critically analyse and understand situations in a more nuanced way.

Completing a rural placement has allowed me to immerse myself in a new community and work collaboratively with the people and agencies that are a part of it. I have been pushed out of my comfort zone and have learnt a lot about myself and the trajectory I wish to take in my social work career whilst also strengthening my resilience, self-confidence, autonomy, and adaptability skills. I have also built strong connections with the other social work students who were on placement in Hedland, which accelerated my learning and who I will continue to foster my relationship with outside of placement to create a strong professional network. Overall, my rural placement experience has been very positive and I would recommend it as an option for future students.

Rhian Wilkie, Nursing student, Curtin University

I completed a five week emergency department (ED) placement at Albany Health Campus as a final semester student registered nurse. This has been an eye-opening and invaluable experience that has significantly enriched my understanding of healthcare delivery in underserved communities. Stepping into the rural ED setting presented unique challenges and opportunities that have deeply impacted my professional growth.

One of the best aspects of my placement was the close-knit nature of the community and the intimate connection between healthcare providers and patients. Unlike the bustling environment of larger hospitals, the rural setting fostered a more personal approach to patient care. I had the privilege of developing strong, trusting relationships with patients and their families, which not only enhanced their care but also provided me with a deeper appreciation for the human aspect of nursing.

The resource limitations of a rural hospital were evident, requiring a high level of adaptability and innovation. I learned to be versatile and creative in providing care due to the scarcity of certain equipment and specialised services. This experience developed my critical thinking and problem-solving skills, as I often had to find alternative methods to deliver the best possible care with the available resources.

Working in a smaller facility also meant that interdisciplinary collaboration was integral. I had the chance to work closely with a variety of healthcare professionals, fostering a more comprehensive understanding of patient care from different perspectives. This collaborative environment was not only educational but also reinforced the importance of teamwork in delivering quality healthcare.

My placement at Albany Health Campus was an incredibly formative experience. It taught me not only about nursing practice but also about the profound impact of community, adaptability, and collaboration in providing holistic patient care. I am grateful for the lessons learned and the growth it has instilled in me as I pursue a career in nursing and look forward to continuing my career in rural and regional healthcare.

The rural placement support program that has your back

The Rural Health West Allied Health Rural Clinical Placement Support Program provides financial support to allied health students completing a rural clinical placement in rural Western Australia. For more information click here

Acknowledgement of Country