Challenges of Remote and Rural Allied Health Practice

Whilst remote and rural practice provides many opportunities it does present some challenges, especially those new to the community. These challenges are not experienced by all Allied health professionals, but are dependent on the individual and the context in which he/she practices. It is important to be aware of these potential challenges in order to put in place strategies to address them before they become an issue. This page aims to give you the tools and knowledge to address these challenges (and turn them into some fantastic opportunities).

Challenges of remote and rural allied health practice, as identified by the Literature Review and Key Informant Interviews include:

 

Practice

  • Diversity of clients, with a wide range of clinical presentations (the need to be a specialist generalist)
  • Lack of management support, including limited understanding of allied health services, skills, knowledge and roles
  • Inadequate resources and inappropriate infrastructure
  • Poor communication with the community (community engagement)
  • Lack of consistency in the organisational structure for allied health
  • Reduced access to same profession line management
  • Access to quality IT and communication systems.

 

Professional

  • Professional isolation due to reduced local access to peers and networks.
  • Staff shortages and lack of access to locums, potentially leading to long working hours and high workloads. This may lead to self-care issues
  • Limited support, including mentoring and adequate clinical supervision
  • Limited of access to professional development
  • Limited opportunity for career development
  • Inadequate or absent orientation
  • Inadequate preparation for remote or rural work
  • Under-represented of rural allied health professionals in professional organisations
  • Challenges to maintaining confidentiality
  • Difficulty translating training and evidence into remote and rural practice (including the lack of evidence and research specific to remote and rural contexts)
  • Lack of access to specialist support pathways
  • Unrealistic expectations.

 

Personal

  • Social isolation, including distance from family and friends and lack of social support
  • Lack of social and cultural facilities in the community
  • Risk of burnout, due to reduced self care
  • Lack of rural incentives
  • Working in a physical environment of climatic extremes (safety risks)
  • Blurring of personal and professional boundaries (Allied health professionals have a higher profile in the community both professionally and personally, and may even have overlapping roles)
  • Finding appropriate employment for partner or suitable education facilities for children.

 

Challenges & You

  • What challenges have you faced so far in your transition to remote and rural practice?
  • How can these challenges be turned into an opportunity?
  • Is there a section on this website that can help?
  • If not, speak to your manager, supervisors or colleagues. No doubt they have experienced similar challenges and may have some idea to help you.