Chapter 9

Workplace Learning as a Strategy to Develop a Rural Health Workforce

Megan Smith


World-wide rural residents do not have equal health status compared to metropolitan populations or equitable access to quality health care. There is a complex, inter-related and multi-factorial range of factors contributing to the existence of ruralmetropolitan health differentials, of which access to an adequate health workforce is a key factor. Recognition of the factors contributing to rural health status and the adequacy of the rural health workforce has spurned a range of proposed strategies to address the issues. A number of these strategies relate to the education of the future health workforce. This chapter provides a contemporary discussion of developing a rural health workforce and uses this as a lens to critically review the practice of workplace learning as an educational strategy and focus on innovative methods of workplace learning being developed at an Australian University. The aim of the inquiry is to identify implications for the conduct of workplace learning in rural locations where the intent is to address the issues of supply of a rural health workforce, access to quality healthcare in rural locations and ultimately improve the health status of rural communities.

Total Pages: 380-415 (36)

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