Orientation, Development & Support

The Transition to Rural and Remote Practice Toolkit is currently under review and content may be out of date. The toolkit will be updated following the review.

Orientation, development and support are central elements in your transition to any work place, but they have special significance when practicing in a remote or rural context. It is important you develop an understanding of the orientation, support, and development opportunities available to you, and make the most of them.

This section provides an overview of some of the important elements contained within orientation, support and development. It also provides links to support and development resrouces for students, and some information pertaining to scholarships and grants. Read through each of the pages and think about how these best apply to your situation.

Orientation

The Transition to Rural and Remote Practice Toolkit is currently under review and content may be out of date. The toolkit will be updated following the review.

Orientation is an essential process when you start a new job, more so when it involves moving into a new community. By definition, orientation is a systematic approach used to welcome new employees and provide necessary information for the employee to become familiar with the workplace. The orientation process will give you an understanding of how the organisation works, your expected roles and responsibilities, and help you become familiar with your workplace and colleagues.

We have put together a brief overview of some of the key elements of orientation you should receive or seek out. Read each of the pages and think about how you can best engage in the orientation to your new role and community.

Before You Start

Your role will vary significantly depending on the location. The support available to you and your scope of practice will also vary depending on your workplace – from sole practitioner to part of larger team, private practice to government health service position.

Research your new job by talking to health professionals who are out there doing it - find out what it's like for them. This is all information you can find out before you apply for the position, at interview or after you have been successfully secured a position.

Below are some particular issues you might want to look into.

 

Your Job

  • Types of services and health professionals at the site
  • Work setting (e.g. hospital, community health etc)
  • Access to a senior/experienced professional for supervision and support
  • Requirements of the job
  • Working hours (including on call etc)
  • Types of clients/caseload
  • Requirements for travel (e.g remote trips)
  • Types of service delivery
  • Resources available
  • Orientation program
  • Access to professional development
  • Degree of remoteness or isolation of the setting
  • Study allowances, including leave to access courses and financial support to attend
  • Mechanisms to support cultural awareness training and support
  • Occupational health and safety arrangements
  • Access to IT (computer /intranet).

 

Relocation

Some employers will offer assistance with relocation. This may involve reimbursement of relocation costs or provision of accommodation allowances. Find out if you have access to relocation support.

 

Accommodation

Place of residence is a big part of moving to the country. This is the place that you spend the second most amount of time in (outside of work). Some health services may offer short term or long-term subsidised accommodation options. Prior to starting explore your accommodation options.

If accommodation support is available make sure you investigate:

  • Rates for accommodation
  • Whether the accommodation is suitable for partners, children and pets
  • Distance between accommodation, health site and town centre
  • Provision of furnishings, whitegoods, white goods, cookware, cutlery, crockery and linen.

If accommodation support isn't available make sure you investigate: 

  • Rental and property market 
  • Rental and housing prices
  • Furniture hire (if required)
  • Local realtors / real estate agents.

 

Community

It's also a good idea to get to know as much as you can about the community before you arrive. Much of this information you can find on the Internet. Alteratively have a chat to people who live in the community (the local tourism centre can be extremely helpful, as can other local health professionals). Another option is to visit the community before you start, this gives you a good chance to have a look around.

Some things to find out about the community include: 

  • Things to do
  • Things to see
  • Special events and local activities
  • Community size
  • Distance from major centres
  • Community facilities and amenities
  • Travel and transport (how to get there and get around).

 

Before you start & You

  • Have you found out all you need to about your new role and community?
  • What additional steps can you take to source information?

Work Orientation

When you start in a new job you may receive several types, or levels, of orientation to your employment. These may include organisational, site and workplace orientations. Below we have provided a brief description of these types of orientation.

 

Organisational Orientation

Organisational orientation provides information relevant to all those working in the organisation. This is mainly relevant for large organisations, government and private, that have health facilities across many sites.

You may be required to undertake this type of orientation independently (often on-line or in written format) or as part of an integrated site orientation. Ask your manager if there is an organisational orientation (sometimes called a corporate or general orientation) to your organisation.

 

Site Orientation

A site orientation will introduce you to the people, policy and practices that operate within your work site (not just your department or work area). These sessions are typically scheduled regularly, and may include mandatory skills training and assessment. All people new to the health service attend them.

Talk to your manager or your local Staff Development Team for further information regarding health service sites orientation.

 

Workplace Orientation

Workplace orientation assists staff to learn more about their new job, work role, to get to know their new colleagues and to master the detailed procedures of their new job. This type of orientation may take up to three months, during which staff will develop their knowledge and performance levels to acceptable standards of quality and timeliness. This orientation is about what you do everyday. 

 

Work Orientation & You

  • Have you received an organisational orientation? If not is there one available?
  • Have you received a work site orientation? If not is there one available?
  • Have you received a work role orientation? If not is there one available?
  • How will an orientation to all aspect of your role influence your practice and transition?

Settling Into Work

The first month of a new job can be quite stressful. Here are some simple tips to help you settle into your new workplace.

  • Participate in an orientation program as soon as you commence employment. Your orientation program should include orientation to the workplace, organisation, and if appropriate to the health service, health region/district, health site and department/ward.
  • Ask questions. From 'Where's the bathroom?' to 'Which tool do I use for this task?'. It's OK to ask for help! Your co-workers will feel good about doing whatever they can to assist you. Let them. It's always better to have to ask the right way to do something than to try to figure it out on your own, mess up, and have to do it all over again.
  • Use your lunch break to get together with your current co-workers (this will give you a chance to get to know them and their interests).

The National Rural Health Alliance have some additional advice:

  • It's likely that your new workplace will be different from anywhere you have worked before. No one is expected to know the nuances and complexities of the rural & remote context from day one. Be prepared to say what you do not know or understand, or have not previously experienced. For many, those very differences and challenges make rural and remote area practice one of the most rewarding of all forms of health.
  • There is much to learn, but also much for you to contribute in your new work context. Be prepared to share your knowledge and experience from elsewhere with the health team in your new work setting. 
  • Get involved in the workplace and actively participate in your orientation. Don’t just be a passenger. There is so much you will be able to contribute, even if you feel a little nervous at first. People will help, if they know you will let them, and that you are ready to go the extra mile. It will be well worth the effort in terms of your job satisfaction.

Take a look at our Strategies to Support Orientation page for some more tips and hints.

 

Settling into Work & You

  • Have you settled into your new workplace well?
  • What additional steps can you take to settle in?

Community Orientation

For many Allied Health Professionals commencing work in a remote or rural setting means settling into a new community as well as a new job. In order to make the best of remote and rural practice it is vital that you take the time to become orientated to the community. Spend some time investigating or asking people about:

• Sport and recreation
• Library and facilities
• Clubs and groups
• Restaurants
• Weekend activities
• Local night-spots
• Schools & child care
• Shops
• Banks
• Post Office
• Travel and transport options
• Local events
• Local sights
• Local health services
 

Below are some suggestions for helping you settle into your new community:

  • Visit the local library and tourist centre. These centres distribute maps, newspapers, community calendars, brochures and much more. 
  • Invite a close relative or friend to stay with you right after the move. The two of you can explore unfamiliar territory together, and you'll have an extra pair of hands to help unpack.
  • Remember the rule about six degrees of separation. Speak to friends and relatives about their ties to your new town. Someone always will know someone who lives or who has lived in your new community. Give them a call or take them to coffee / the pub and ask them to tell you about the town.
  • Buy a map and start exploring. Seeing your new town is fun and right away gives you something in common with other people. And you'll start developing your favourite haunts—a true sign of home
  • Join a local sports team (even if you have never played that sport before – have a go!). Many health professionals have suddenly become tennis players or soccer players on arrival to a new town.
  • Say YES to everything. As the new person in town and at work you will be invited to attend a host of activities, parties and gatherings. Even though it is uncomfortable to begin with (unless you are the extrovert social butterfly) go along and make the effort – it will be worth it in the long run.
  • Look for things in the new community that you enjoyed in your old one. If you enjoy golf, find out about your local golf facilities. If you were part of a support group, see if there is a similar group in town.
  • Go to all the local community events (even the ones you would never have considered going to before moving). Local events are an important part of country life.
  • Buy the local newspaper. This is an easy and enjoyable way to get acquainted with a new community and to get a taste of what life is like there.
  • Become a volunteer. Community service and volunteerism may be one of the best ways to create meaningful new ties. Find opportunities through local community centres or library, your job, churches, or schools, or online.
  • Latch on to other newbies. Seek out other families/people who have moved recently. Chances are they will be in the same stage of getting settled, so their calendars will have as much white space as yours.
  • Talk to people. Ask questions, be sociable and get to know people. Make an effort.

 

Community Orientation & You

  • Have you made an effort to engage in the community?
  • How can you become more involved?

Strategies To Support Orientation

There are several strategies you can employ to get the most out of your orientation. We have identified a few for you below. Review the strategies and think about how you can get the most out of the process.

 

Be an Active Participant in Orientation

Orientation is a two way process. The organisation has a responsibility to provide a comprehensive orientation and induction to new employees. It's also important that you take an active role in your orientation process. Be active. Ask questions. 

You can do this by:

  • Actively participating in your orientation and in any workshops or orientation sessions that are provided
  • Taking responsibility for self-directed orientation
  • Becoming familiar with your position and your role within the workplace
  • Asking any questions and seeking answers that will help you understand your job or put you at ease in your work setting.

 

Orientation Buddy

Some workplaces will assign a “buddy” to assist with orientation. If you workplace doesn’t offer a buddy system, ask your manager to help you find one. An orientation buddy is a great resource, and gives you someone you can ask about local procedures and who can help you figure out how things work. Responsibilities of a buddy may include:

  • Be an informational resource on policies, procedures, work rules, norms (basically how things are done)
  • Help socialise and build networks
  • Provide information (if your buddy isn’t able to get it for you, they will know who to go to).
  • Assist in training
  • Be a tour guide
  • Identify resources that may be of use
  • Provide introductions.

 

Work Shadowing

Work shadowing can be a really good way to get a better understanding of your job and your work environment. Developing these understandings will better facilitate your orientation.

 

Mentoring

Mentors are fantastic resources to support your orientation. Some workplaces will have existing mentoring programs in place. If your workplace doesn’t, talk to your manager about finding one for you.  

 

Strategies to Support Orientation & You

  • Have you actively engaged in the orientation process? How can you become more engaged?
  • Have you been provided with an orientation buddy? If not, how could you access one?
  • Have you been provided with work shadowing opportunities? If not, where can you seek them?
  • Have you been assigned a mentor? If not where can you access one?

Family Orientation

If you’re moving to a new community with a partner and/or family, orientation is more than just you to your job. The orientation process needs to extend to the members of your family to ensure that they settle into the community with you. There a plenty of strategies you can employ to ease the transition of you family, see below for some hints and tips. 

 

Moving with a Partner

Some tips to help partners settle into a new community:

  • Settle into the community together (See the Community Orientation page for more information)
  • Consider your partner's work requirements
  • Explore volunteer opportunities within the community
  • Find out if your partner's hobbies can continue in the new community
  • Make an effort to get to know your neighbours early.

 

Moving with Children

Some tips to help children settle into a new community: 

  • Give children plenty of notice of the relocation
  • Involve them in the move (packing, looking for somewhere to live etc)
  • Provide information about the new town and school, and listen to your child’s concerns
  • Unpack your children’s room first to make it 'home'
  • Keep familiar things around (stress the constant)
  • Try and get back into routine as soon as possible
  • Help your child make new friends
  • Sign your children up for the same activities they had previously been involved in
  • Find out what activities for children the new community offers
  • Communicate with classroom teachers (how well is your child settling into school?)
  • Find ways of keeping in touch with friends and family
  • If people at your work have children, arrange play meetings
  • Look for warning signs of children not adjusting well. 

 

Family Orientation & You

  • How is your family settling into the new community?
  • How you best support their community orientation?  

Orientation Checklist and Schedule

Orientation Checklists

We have generated two checklists that might be useful to help guide orientation, and also ensure that you are orientated to everything that you need to be: 

  • Work Place Orientation Checklist (Document not available) 
  • Work Role Orientation Checklist (Document not available)

Print off these checklists and tick off items as they are completed.
If there are items that you have not been oriented to check with your line manager.

 

Orientation Schedule

As part of the orientation process, it is useful to establish an orientation table (see below). The timetable ensures that sufficient time is allocated and quarantined for orientation.

  • Orientation Schedule (Document not available)

 

Orientation Checklist and Schedule & You

  • Have you downloaded and worked through the above documents?
  • Have you received orientation to all of the elements identified in the checklist? If not, where can you access further orientation?

Orientation Tips for Managers

Orientation (or lack of it) will make a significant difference to your employees’ attitude about their position, co-workers and organisation. It will also contribute to how quickly they can be welcome into the workplace, become more productive, and become part of the team. Over the long term, this can even influence overall job satisfaction and determine whether a staff member decides to stay.

Below are some strategies to help you successfully orient your new staff.

 

Plan for Orientation 

  • Take time to prepare for orientation (before the person starts). This may including reviewing orientation processes, setting up meetings, preparing the employee's workspace, or letting people know that a new employee is starting.
  • Stay in touch with the new employee after he or she has accepted the position to answer questions or help in other ways. Think about what aspects of orientation need to be provided before the employee starts (e.g. relocation, contract, accommodation, office location etc). You might want to direct the new employee to resources available on the Internet before they start. 

 

Develop an Orientation Timetable

  • Develop an orientation timetable to make sure the new employee receives a comprehensive, structured orientation to the organisation and work role.
  • Obviously the first week will be the most time intensive. However, you should allocate time in the following weeks to continue with the orientation process. Quarantining time for orientation is important. Appendix three provides a suggested orientation table.
  • Spread orientation out over a three-month orientation period. Don’t expect to provide all details about the organisation, its management, philosophies, guidelines and specific job duties into a 3-day orientation marathon. Consider orientation a process, not a one-time event.

 

Engage the Employee in Orientation

  • Engage the employee in orientation. Many aspects of orientation can be self-directed.
  • Orientation should emphasise people as well as procedures and things. New employees need to quickly establish relationships with the other people in the organisation so that they feel comfortable asking questions and seeking help.
  • Send memo or email to all staff welcoming the new employee on their first day of commencement.
  • Assign a mentor or buddy to help the new employee until they feel more confident. This provides a dedicated person to ask questions or for support in their day-to-day duties. 

 

Periodically Check 

  • Schedule regular catch ups with the new employee (for example at the end of the first week, first month and first three months) for an ‘orientation check’ to see if the job is everything they thought it would be and to answer any questions they may have.  

 

Orientation beyond the workplace

  • Don’t forget to include newcomers in social events outside of work. Being invited to the local watering hole after work can make the employee feel like they belong. 
  • Keep the new person's family in mind. A new job means adjustment for the entire family, especially if they have relocated. Do what you can to ease the transition and help them feel comfortable in the community.

 

Evaluate Orientation

  • Ask the employee about the effectiveness of the orientation process. Find out what is working and what is not in order to continually revise, update and improve your new employee orientations.

The Orientation Checklist & Schedule page provides some tools that may be helpful.

Development

The Transition to Rural and Remote Practice Toolkit is currently under review and content may be out of date. The toolkit will be updated following the review.

Your continued professional development is an important facet of your growth as a clinician. Development is a broad process and requires clinicians to be actively involved. We have put together a brief overview professional development, including the process, pathways and some of the developmental opportunities available. Read each of the pages and think about how you can be proactive in your development.

Introduction to CPD

Continuing Professional Development (CPD) is an interactive process by which health professionals maintain, enhance and extend their knowledge, expertise and competence throughout their careers. Alsop (2000) described the key features of CPD as:

  • A process, rather than a product
  • Lifelong, ongoing through professional life
  • Systematic
  • Embraces formal education and informal learning, including on the job learning
  • Builds on what is know in order to
    • Assure competence
    • Develop personal qualities
    • Enhance professional and technical skills
    • Maintain, enhance and broaden professional knowledge
    • Expand and help fulfill potential
    • Have a positive impact on health outcomes
    • Maintain quality and relevance of professional services
    • Develop and enhance practice
    • Prepare for changing roles in service delivery.

All practising professionals want to develop their careers and strive for excellence. Effective CPD will make you:

  • Confident because you have the evidence to show that you can practice effectively
  • Competent because you have an up to date knowledge and skills base
  • Capable because your CPD skills equip you to meet the changing demands of practice

CPD can be of enormous profession and personal benefit. It can improve your professional effectiveness, career opportunities and work satisfaction. As Allied Health Professionals, we are also ethically, legally and professional bound to life-long learning through our Code of Ethics, professional regulations and standards of practice.

 

Key Principles of CPD

  • You, as the individual learner, are responsible for managing, undertaking and evidencing your CPD activities
  • Your CPD learning process is continuous in a systematic cycle of analysis, action and review
  • Your learning objectives should be clear and serve organisational needs and patient/client needs as well as your individual goals
  • The process is planned and based on identified and achievable learning outcomes
  • CPD should be linked to the Performance Development process.

 

Useful Resources

Types of CPD

When we talk about CPD, we automatically think formal training. However, professional development can include a wide range of activities. Attending lectures, conferences and courses remains a key aspect of life-long learning, but it is important to realise that the majority of learning comes from experience in a day-to-day practice.

The following list of CPD activities (based on the framework developed by Health Professions Council, UK) is not exhaustive, but it will provide you with some idea of the types of activity that you can undertake which will contribute to the achievement of your learning outcomes:

Work Based Learning

  • Learning by doing
  • Case studies/presentations
  • Reflective practice
  • Clinical audit
  • Coaching from others
  • Discussions with colleagues
  • Peer review
  • Involvement in wider work of employer (for example, being a representative on a committee)
  • Work shadowing
  • Site visits
  • Ward rounds
  • Secondments/locums
  • Job rotation
  • Journal club
  • Study groups/interest groups
  • In-service training
  • Supervising staff or students
  • Visiting other departments and reporting back
  • Expanding your role
  • Analysing significant events
  • Filling in self-assessment questionnaires
  • Project work or project management
  • Participating in a committee
  • Quality assurance activities
  • Evidence of learning activities undertaken as part of your progression on competency frameworks.
  • Acting up
  • Developing pathways, protocols, guidelines, policy etc.
  • Undertaking a project.
  • Participating in performance development

Self-Directed Learning

  • Reading journals/articles
  • Conducting a literature search
  • Online discussion groups
  • List-serves
  • Reviewing books or articles
  • Updating knowledge through the Internet or TV
  • Keeping a file of your progress

Professional Activity

  • Involvement in a professional body
  • Membership of a specialist interest group
  • Lecturing or teaching
  • Mentoring
  • Being an examiner
  • Being a tutor
  • Branch meetings
  • Organising journal clubs or other specialist groups
  • Maintaining or developing specialist skills (eg, musical skills)
  • Being an expert witness
  • Participating in a committee
  • Membership of other professional bodies or groups
  • Giving presentations at conferences
  • Organising accredited courses
  • Supervising research
  • Being a national assessor
  • Being promoted

Formal / Educational

  • Courses
  • Workshops
  • Further education
  • Undertaking research
  • Attending conferences
  • Writing articles or papers
  • Going to seminars
  • Distance learning/online learning
  • Courses accredited by professional body
  • Planning or running a course
  • Delivering training.

Other

  • Public service
  • Voluntary work
  • Courses.


 

Types of CPD & You

  • Make a list of all the CPD activities and opportunities available to you at your workplace and also outside of work.
  • Are you making the most of all the opportunities available?
  • After every CPD event, record the event, your learning’s and how you plan to apply these learning’s to practice.

 

Useful Resources

Planning CPD

One of the most important parts of CPD is planning. Typically planning for CPD includes 5 key steps:

 

1. Review yourself and identify your goals

  • What are your strengths, weakness and area of further development?
  • Reflect on where you are now. What have you learned so far?
  • Review your qualifications, courses attended, job experience, skills, interests and methods of learning.
  • Analyse the current and future demands of your job
  • Compare your experience with the benchmark standard (see Competency Frameworks).

 

2.  Determine the skills you need and set your learning activities

  • What do you want to achieve? Try and think both short term (12 months) and long term (3 years).
  • Define your needs by writing a learning goal.

 

3.  Plan to achieve by identifying activities to achieve learning goals

  • What learning activities will help you meet your needs?
  • Match your learning activities to your learning goals.
  • Identify time frames and learning outcomes.
  • Develop a learning plan.

 

4.  Record your learning

 

5.  Review and evaluate your learning

  • Once the plan has been implemented, review what happened and what you learned.
  • Did you meet your objectives?
  • What was the value to your clients?
  • How will you share your new knowledge?
  • How will your change your work practice?
  • Make any necessary amendments as circumstances change.

 

Alsop, A. (2000). Continuing Professional Development: a guide for therapists. Oxford: Blackwell.

 

Planning CPD & You

Spend some time developing a Learning Plan (if you don’t already have one). Remember when developing your learning plan:

  • Make your plan simple and achievable within the time available to you.
  • Keep in mind the financial and time resource implications of your plan.
  • Taylor the plan to when and you learn best, and the type of activities most effective to you.
  • Consider how the types of support your employer is able to provide.
  • We all have many demands on our time. A good plan should serve many purposes (e.g. linked to professional registration/credentialing, performance management etc).
  • Remember your plan is a living document - keep it flexible.
  • Constructing a good plan takes time and effort, but this is amply rewarded in CPD terms.

Competency Frameworks

Competency frameworks provide a means of benchmarking your professional competence and development against determined standard. They can be a useful way of making sure you’re on the right track, and give you an idea of areas you would like to focus your professional development towards. Health professionals have many different types competencies, which can include:

Profession Specific Competencies: Competencies unique to a clinical situation of clinical profession (e.g. physiotherapy specific competencies). All professional associations have available competency frameworks specific to the allied health profession. Some organisations also have developed profession specific technical competencies.

Shared Profession Competencies: Compencies shared by a number of health professions in the delivery of health services. This may include competencies for a practice setting (e.g. rural and remote), a particular program area (e.g. mental health, aged care, child development), or working with a particular patient cohort (e.g. cultural competencies).

Generic Competencies: Competencies shared by staff working within the health organisation (e.g competencies such as basic life support, fire and safety, hand hygiene etc). Regular training in these competencies is typically provided by an organisation.

 

Competency Frameworks & You

  • Have you identified competency frameworks relevant to your role and discipline?
  • Where can you look for these frameworks?
  • How can competency assessment impact your development?

 

Useful Resources

The Australian Government is currently undertaking a project to identify core competencies for Australian Health Professionals.

Reflective Practice

Effective learning is not just about attending a courses and conferences, it requires you to reflect on your practise and integrate new information where it is relevant to improve your practice. It may include:

  • Self-assessment of practice / competence in a given situation to identify areas for development and ultimately improve competence
  • Looking for learning points within the scenario or situation on which you reflect and considering how you might apply that learning in other situations to further enhance performance
  • Identifying learning / development needs e.g. as part of the CPD cycle and planning to meet these in order to improve practice
  • Changing or modifying practice in response to the learning undertaken

There are three types of reflection:

Reflection in Action: Reflection-in-action is the ability to conduct such reflection not only after the experience, but also during the experience – the ability to think on your feet, to understand what is happening and why, and to deal with the uncertainties of practice in situations.

  • Thinking one step ahead (oh good, if that's happened the next thing is to... )
  • Being critical (no, not there, try just here…)
  • Storing experience for the future (I could have said that better - next time...)
  • Analysing (she's saying that to test me out - better respond cautiously here) etc.

Structured Reflection: Structure reflection involves systematically moving through one or all of the following:

  • What happened?
  • Identifying significant events/incidents?
  • How did you feel, think, feel, and do?
  • What assumptions, beliefs, customs, or values underlie the event?
  • What were the environmental demands?
  • What are the implications for future practice?
  • What was learned?
  • What could be changed?
  • What concepts/assumptions could be challenged?

Informal Reflection: Most of us engage in reflection activities without even being aware that we are, in activities such as:

  • Talking over a situation you have found difficult with a partner, friend or colleague e.g. a difficult patient, a treatment that isn’t working etc. 
  • Thinking over the events of the day on the way home.

These activities however often tend to lack a focus on change or learning points. Try in improve the effectiveness of informal reflection by including a ‘what will I change/improve’ question in your discussion.

 

Making Time for Reflection

Becoming a reflective practitioner requires time, practice, and an environment supportive to the development and organisation of the reflection process. This is a highly individualized process and you should find the structure and method of reflection that best you.

Some examples of reflective practice options include:

When Where How
Immediately after the experience
At the end of the day
During my planning time
First thing in the morning
Wednesday during my lunch 
 
In my office
At home
In the shower
On the way to work

 

On the computer
Reflective journaling
Sticky notes
Reflection sheets
Verbal reflection with peer
 

 

Reflective Practice & You

  • What types of reflection do you typically engage in?
  • When, where and how do you engage in reflection?
  • How can you make time for reflective practice?

 

Useful Resources

Further Education

With the increasing availability of flexible learning, access to post graduate studies is becoming more accessible for remote and rural allied health professionals. Postgraduate studies can be a great way to improve your knowledge and skills and develop your career. Just because you are remote and rural, doesn’t mean that you can’t undertake post-graduate studies. For many AHPs this is actually a great time to consider further studies, especially with access to remote and rural Scholarships & Grants.

 

Avaliable Courses

There are many postgraduate courses that may be of interest to remote and rural allied health professionals. These include profession specific, program specific or remote and rural specific. Deciding which postgraduate course is best for you is very personal decision, guided by your interests and future career aspirations. Flexible learning also means that your choice of university is also extensive (you are not just limited to those in your back yard). 

 

Financial Support

Loan schemes for postgraduate studies

The Australian Government’s Higher Education Loan Programme (HELP) includes the following loans for postgraduate studies:

  • FEE-HELP which provides eligible fee-paying students with a loan to cover their tuition fees
  • HECS-HELP which provides eligible students in a Commonwealth supported place with a loan to cover payment of their student contributions. 

Scholarships

JASON is a postgraduate scholarship search engine. Scholarships in the database apply to Australian students wishing to study at home or abroad, and to international students wishing to study in Australia.

Also see Scholarships & Grants for scholarships specific to remote and rural allied health.

 

Post Graduate Studies & You

  • Are you interested in post graduate studies (now or in the future)?
  • What type of post graduate studies would you like to pursue?
  • What areas are you interested in further developing your skills and knowledge?
  • What type of course (face to face, intensive, flexible, online) is best for you? Think about how you learn.
  • Are you able to make the time and financial commitment to post graduate studies?

The Good Universies Guide: Information for Post Graduate Students provides some useful information to help you answer the above questions.

Work Shadowing

Work shadowing quite simply refers to a process where one staff member 'shadows' or follows another in their work role for a period of time. In practice, work shadowing provides an opportunity to increase knowledge, skills and understanding of a particular job role through first hand observation. It also provides a means of gaining insight into how the local health service operates, and how a particular work role fits within the overall organisational structure.

Actively seek out work shadowing opportunities. They allow you to better understand your role, that of others within your team, the health service, and the community. They also allow you to develop your professional networks. Use work shadowing to support your orientation and your ongoing development.

Potential people to shadow may include:  

  • Allied Health Professionals of the same discipline within your team
  • Allied Health Professionals of other disciplines within the health service
  • Other health professionals within the health service
  • Other health professionals in partner organisations, for example Aboriginal Medical Service.

The time spent shadowing will vary depending upon the person you are shadowing, the direct relevance of their role to yours, and the particular context. A day is a good start. It may be useful to organise several work shadowing opportunities with the same or different people spread over a period of time to maximise your learning opportunities.

Talk to your line manager and identify relevant work shadowing opportunities. 

 

Work Shadowing & You

  • Have you been provided with work shadowing opportunities?
  • If not, who would be a suitable person/s within your organisation to shadow?
  • How can you seek out opportunities to shadow?
  • How could work shadowing impact your development and practice?

Performance Development

Performance Development is a tool for rewarding, encouraging, supporting and developing all employees. Organisations use many different terms to describe performance development, including performance management and performance appraisal (to name a few). Performance development aims to develop, maintain and improve your skills, knowledge and job performance in order to achieve individual career goals and contribute to the achievement of team and organizations business goals.

Performance Development is an ongoing cyclical process, which provides time and a structure for you and your manager/supervisor to:

  • Discuss how you are going in your job
  • Exchange feedback
  • Clarify how your work contributes to the goals of the Health Service
  • Decide together what you both need to do in order to optimise the effectiveness of your work
  • Identify and plan for any areas/issues needing support 
  • Discuss and plan for your development needs.

 

Getting the Most of Performance Development

Many people have reservations about performance development, thinking that it is an opportunity for your manager to ‘critique’ your performance. This couldn’t be further from the truth. It is an opportunity to recognised your achievements and developments and to make a plan together to develop the competencies and capabilities you require for your role now and in the future. It is a chance to let your manager know what you are capable of and where you want to take your career. It can be also be a way to open up communication channels about how your job contributes towards the organisation goals and objectives, how the job could be done better, what you need to achieve this and how the organisation can help you.

 

Performance Development & You

  • Most organisations include Performance Development as part of their standard Human Resource practice, and will have policy, guidelines and tools specific to the organisation. Talk you your manager about performance development in your organisation.
  • If you haven’t had a performance development session with your manager – book one now.

 

Useful Resources

Duraisingam V, Skinner N. Performance Appraisal. In N. Skinner, A.M. Roche, J. O’Connor,Y. Pollard, & C. Todd (Eds.), Workforce Development TIPS (Theory Into Practice Strategies): A Resource Kit for the Alcohol and Other Drugs Field. National Centre for Education and Training on Addiction, Flinders University, Adelaide, Australia; 2005.

Professional Portfolios

A Professional Portfolio is a reference folder that allows you to gather evidence that you can use to demonstrate your goals, competencies, ongoing professional development, career achievements and accomplishments and experiences. Professional portfolios are valuable tools to: help you to demonstrate that you are developing, maintaining and enhancing your skills; assist you in identifying current and future training needs; and prepare profile statements linked to registration.

Professional portfolios are also useful to:

  • Use in performance management/development sessions
  • Assist with writing job applications (VC and address of selection criteria)
  • Demonstrate abilities at job interview
  • Support discussion reclassification
  • Gain accreditation for prior learning and prior experiential learning with higher education institutions
  • Support an application for further study at a further or higher educational institution
  • Support an application for funding for formal study.

Professional Portfolio’s are very personal. It is a document that will differ considerably from person to person. Typical components of a professional portfolio may include:

  • Education and Qualification Details
  • Memberships and Registration Details
  • Competence
  • Assessment (Self, peer, supervisor)
  • Log (attainment of specific competencies, e.g. First Aid)
  • Professional Development Log
  • Individual Performance Reviews & Development Plans
  • Reflective Practice
  • Publications and Conference Presentations
  • Case study presentation
  • Teaching and Training Activities
  • Significant Event Record
  • Achievement & Awards.

 

Professional Portfolios & You

Do you have a professional portfolio? Does your professional association have a template for professional portfolios? If you don’t have one, start making one now. Some tips when creating your own personal portfolio include:

  • Consider the structure of the portfolio (what components you want to include)
  • What type of material will it include (paper, photos, multimedia)
  • Set aside an afternoon to transfer your informal folder into a your portfolio.

 

Useful Resources

Remote and Rural CPD

Whilst remote and rural practice can provide a rich environment for CPD, there are a number of barriers for remote and rural Allied Health Professionals, mostly due to the difficulty in accessing events hosted in the city, or the effect of small department size on CPD opportunities. Below are some tips for addressing some of the commonly recognised barriers.

 

Funding

Formal CPD frequently requires funding (e.g. registration costs and study leave). Funding required to attend CPD can be higher for remote and rural practitioners as travel and accommodation costs are often incurred. Tips:

  • Make the most of work-based CPD opportunities (there are many learning opportunities right at your door). 
  • Explore funding support options such as Scholarships & Grants.

 

Time

Finding time to undertake CPD can also be challenging. It can often be hard to squeeze CPD (especially self directed) into your busy schedule. Tips:

  • Dedicate 1/2 hour a fortnight to reading new articles (include in your diary)
  • Have articles printed out (ready to take with you and read in downtimes e.g. waiting for client etc).
  • Negotiate protected time for CPD with your manager/supervisor.
  • Embed reflection and recording into the daily routine

 

Access

Much work has been done to address the issue of access to CPD. A larger range of CPD is now available via videoconference or in self-directed format. Access to the Internet has also enhanced the ability of allied health professional’s to keep up to date with current research and directions. Tips:

  • Find out what CPD is available via videoconference.
  • Work with your professional association to make CPD available via flexible delivery (including video-recording events and making them available for loan).
  • Make use of online resources such as journals, web sites etc.
  • Consider studying postgraduate programs via distance education etc.
  • Invest some time in developing a list of Internet favourites – linking you to quality sites to enhance your CPD.

 

Appropriateness

Frequently learnings from CPD are specific to a context or practice situation that may not be directly applicable to remote and rural practice. This often means that you have to apply these learning to your context. Tips:

  • Reflect on the Remote & Rural Context and Remote & Rural Practice and how this impacts on your learnings.
  • Discuss with colleagues how learnings can be applied to the remote and rural context.
  • Ask questions of the presenter regarding application of learnings in specific situations.

Maximising CPD

Research shows that CPD is optimised when you identify the knowledge and skills needed for professional competence, use appropriate educational methods, and develop individualised strategies when applying what has been learned to professional practice.  

You will learn best when you are motivated, and your CPD:

  • Is highly self directed, you are responsible for deciding what CPD activities you want to do
  • Is based on your learning plan and the learning needs you have identified for yourself
  • Builds on your existing knowledge and experience
  • Links your learning to practice
  • Includes evaluation of the effect of your learning on your practice
  • Involves review of your learning plan in response to your experience.

Continuing Professional Development information for Health Professionals (ACT Health, 2005)

 

Tips for Making CPD Work

  • Be fully engaged
  • Give and accept the gift of feedback graciously
  • Learn from your mistakes
  • Recognise prior knowledge and experience without being blinded by preconceptions
  • Support claims with multiple sources, methods and perspectives
  • Ask big questions
  • Challenge mental models (real learning happens when assumptions are challenged and model change is based on new evidence and insights).

 

CPD & You

After every CPD opportunity, there are several questions you can ask to maximise learning:

  • What did I learn?
  • How has this affected my practice?
  • What aspects of my practice have changed as a result?
  • How may my practice change in the future? Will I do anything differently in light of my learning?
  • How will I know when this has happened?
  • What was the benefit to the client/user/service?
  • How does it link with my previous learning?
  • Has it changed how I think about my practice?
  • Have I identified further learning needs?
  • How will I address these?

 

Useful Resources

Support

The Transition to Rural and Remote Practice Toolkit is currently under review and content may be out of date. The toolkit will be updated following the review.

In any work role you need to receive support, and feel supported. When you first start in a position, this support will help you to become orientated to your role. As you settle in, the support will help you to stay there and get the most out of your job.

We have put together a brief overview of some of the elements of support available to you. Read each of the pages and think about how you can get the support you need to thrive, and make the most living and working in a remote or rural community.

Supervision

One of the best ways to build your confidence in your work performance is to seek professional or clinical supervision. High quality supervision will ensure that you and your manager are ‘on the same page’ and guide your development. When you first start in your role it will help you to become orientated more quickly to the position and help you to understand what’s expected of you. As you settle into your role, professional and clinical supervision provides support, builds on your strengths and develops the areas that challenge you.

At a basic level supervision can be a used to ensure that your work is at a suitable standard to ‘pass probation’ or to renew a contract. However, it can also be much more. Supervision can provide an opportunity to formally reflect on your strengths, pinpoint areas for development, and discuss strategies (and budget) to address your needs. A committed manager will provide feedback to promote your growth and development as a professional.

Most workplaces will have a formal performance management process, which will include clinical and professional supervision. If your workplace doesn’t have a formal process, discuss this with your manager. Ask for regular appointments, particularly during your formal orientation and in the first year of your position.

If your manager is ‘off-site’, or in the case of clinical supervision not of your discipline, alternatives, such as teleconferencing or internet technologies such as Skype may be appropriate forums to schedule protected discussion time to reflect on your performance and to ask for assistance with challenges. Refer to our Telehealth page for more information. If your manager is unable to provide supervision, think about other ways you can access supervisory support. Possible sources include: 

  • Your work team
  • Other local peers / colleagues
  • Videoconference / teleconference contact with professionals outside of your town.

 

Supervision and You

  • Is there are performance management process, including clinical and professional supervision within your workplace?
  • If so, are you receiving and making the most of the supervision process?
  • If not, where can you seek appropriate supervision?
  • How can good supervision influence your development?

 

Useful Resources

  • Lake F, Ryan G. Teaching on the run tips 2: Educational guides for teaching in a clinical setting. Medical Journal of Australia, vol 180, iss 10, pp. 527-528; 2004.
  • Adult Learning Australia.

Mentoring

Mentoring refers to a formal or informal relationship between an experienced and a less experienced staff member. Within the business world mentoring is frequently viewed as a strategy to accelerate your career, however, for a rural and remote health professional the benefits are far greater and quite different.

Being able to access support and advice from a more experience staff member can greatly influence the ease of your transition and your ongoing development. It can focus on professional issues as well as broader information to help you ‘thrive in the bush’.

A productive mentoring relationship can offer you increased networking opportunities, access to resources you might not have known about, enhanced clinical skills, support in difficult or new situations, and increased job satisfaction while reducing your risk of burnout and stress. Of course career planning can be included within the mentoring discussions as can your leadership potential.

Many workplaces have mentoring programs in place. Speak to your line manager and find out what is available to you. Your professional association may also have a program. Contact your association to find out what you can access. If your workplace doesn’t have a formal process, discuss this with your manager.

If you are unable to access mentoring at within your workplace take the initiative to seek out a mentoring relationship. Below are some strategies to identify a mentor: 

  • Join SARRAH or other professional networking groups to expand the number of rural and remote health professionals that you encounter. This will expose you to a broader range of possible mentors.
  • Ask colleagues, your manager, or contact your university for suggestions of possible mentors. A previous work experience or a student placement might trigger some ideas. Look for a senior person in your profession, or a more experienced bush colleague.
  • Try using alternatives to face to face contact, such as teleconferencing or internet technologies such as Skype to meet with mentors. Refer to our Telehealth page for more information.

 

Getting the most out of your mentoring relationship

  • Trust is essential to a positive mentoring relationship. Make sure you feel comfortable with your mentor so you can get the most out of them.
  • Find a professional who is willing, accessible (phone or face to face) and reliable. You want this to work- don’t set it up to fail.
  • Enlist your manager’s support. They want you to succeed in the workplace and should encourage your initiative.
  • Think about the support or supervision that you already have in place and identify gaps. This will help clarify what you want from the mentoring relationship.
  • Many professional associations suggest about 4 hours/month is a good amount of time in a mentoring relationship for a professional new to working in the bush. Make sure your mentor can commit to this amount of time.
  • Make your mentoring appointments a ‘diary priority’- never cancel a mentoring session except in absolute necessity.
  • If you find that your mentoring appointments are pleasantly social but not meeting your professional needs there are a number of actions you can take: Document what you want to achieve and how you will know when you have achieved this; Be clear and set the agenda with your mentor; Remain strictly with your agreed agenda; or Prepare a list of questions or details that you would like your mentor to observe/answer.
  • Decide in advance how long you would like to be in the mentoring relationship. Somewhere between 6 and 12 months would be a good initial time period before review.
  • Be aware that occasionally a mentor/mentee relationship needs to be discontinued. If it is not helping you - stop.

 

Mentoring & You

  • Is there are mentoring program within your workplace or professional association that you can access? If so: Are you currently receiving mentoring?; Is you mentor appropriate to you needs?; Are you making the most of the mentoring process?
  • If not: Where can you seek mentoring? What qualities or experience would you like in a mentor?
  • How can mentoring affect your development?

Networking

Establishing networks is really important when you first commence rural and remote practice. Professional and social networks will anchor you in the community and your workplace, and provide support to get yourself established.

Time spent getting to know people within your workplace and community is not time wasted! Think of it instead as an investment in your success in a remote and rural practice setting. Below are some professional and community networks to get involved in.

 

Professional Networking

Developing professional networks is a great way to establish links with other health providers, existing services, resources, and professional support. Start within staff in your immediate team and then expand out from there. Take the time to find out what other people are doing, how their role fits in with yours, and how you may be able to work together.

There several ways you can identify professional networks. Ask your manager and others within your workplace who you should connect with. Pick up the phone and call health services and private practitioners in the area. Look on the state Health Department website, search for a health service directory. Alternatively, look in the local community directory for other providers in your area.

Below is a list of possible professional networks you should explore. Look both to state health services and private practice. You may not have access to all groups, but find out who is available to you and make the most of them.

 

Within the workplace

  • Allied health staff within your discipline or professional group
  • Allied health staff outside of your discipline or professional group
  • Allied Health Assistants
  • Other health professionals within in the workplace (e.g. community health nurses, Aboriginal Health Workers, Diabetes educators).

 

Within the local community  

  • Allied health staff within your discipline or professional group
  • Allied health staff outside of your discipline or professional group
  • Other relevant health professionals and groups within the community (e.g. Aboriginal Medical Services, Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations, local General Practitioners, Divisions of General Practice, and other existing service partners).

Other links 

  • Other regional service partners
  • Allied health staff within your discipline or professional group
  • Allied health staff outside of your discipline or professional group.

 

Community Networking

Living and working in a remote or rural area is so much more than work. Getting hooked into the community will make the transition much easier and allow you to get the most out of living in a remote or rural area. However, for many of us it’s really hard work to put yourself out there, and it’s often a bit challenging knowing where to start.

Start by find out what social, sporting and cultural activities happen within the community. Visit the local shire office, tourist information centre and library, read the local newspaper, look at noticeboards, and ask people. Knowing what’s available is not enough though; you have to get actively involved. Join a team. Try something new. Never say no to an invitation. Getting involved is the best way to met new people and settle in.

Our Self Care and Community Orientation pages may also have some useful information.

 

Networking and You

  • Have you developed strong community and professional networks?
  • Have you made explored the network pathways outlined above?
  • How can networking support you role and your development?

Specialist Support

As an Allied Health Professional working in a remote or rural practice setting, there will likely be times when you will need specialist support. It is important to remember that you are not expected the know everything. When these situations arise seek the support you need.

Given this, an important part of being a remote and rural practitioner is knowing where to access support. There are three main sources of support:

  1. Within your site/organisation
  2. Within your professional network (see Professional Isolation)
  3. By other health service providers, including:
    • State wide services and specialist centres (e.g. tertiary hospitals)
    • Non-government organisations
    • Private organisations

 

Specialist Support & You

The best way to find out about support strategies is to ask your manager/supervisor/mentor, another member of your team, or a colleague. Good questions to ask include:

  • Does the organisation have any health directories (site, community, region and state)?
  • Is anyone in your organisation considered a ‘specialist’ or have a special interest particular health services?
  • Is there a list of non-government agencies and the support services they provide?
  • Is there a list of tertiary hospitals and state-wide specialist services?
  • Does your professional association have state based directory?

One important resource you should develop is your own personal specialist support directory. This contains names and contact details for specialist supports available specific to your practice area. This may take a little time to establish, as you become more familiar with your work and the support and specialist services available.

 

Useful Resources

  • Government of Health Department websites
  • Professional Associations

Students

The Transition to Rural and Remote Practice Toolkit is currently under review and content may be out of date. The toolkit will be updated following the review.

Student Rural Health Clubs and Professional Support

There are several support and networking avenues available to students with an interest in remote and rural health.

  • The National Rural Health Student Network (NRHSN) represents the 29 student rural health clubs across the country. They maintain an allied health portfolio, provide links to all clubs and have some resources specifically designed to support students (see Student Rural Placement Information and Guides).
  • Many professional associations have student networks, and encourage student membership. Refer to your professional association website for more information. 

 

Student Rural Placement Information and Guides

Student placements in remote or rural settings are a fantastic opportunity to develop your skills and experience remote or rural life. There are several resources available to support student undertaking rural placements:

Most University Departments of Rural Health provide information pertaining to local student placements on their websites, including regional and site details and support options.  

 

Student Funding and Rural Scholarships

Funding and scholarships are available to support student clinical placements:

  • SARRAH administers the Allied Health Clinical Placement Scholarship Scheme, an Australian Government initiative to support students undertaking clinical placements.
  • Other scholarships are listed on our Scholarships & Grants page and on the Student page on the SARRAH website. Additionally, speak to clinical placement coordinator to see what financial support is available.