As I grew up in country Victoria, I was keen to secure a rural placement for my professional year. A job at Rural Northwest Health in Warracknabeal aligned perfectly with my Health Science degree. After my interview, I knew this was a workplace I wanted to join as the facilities are terrific, the people welcoming and the variety of work would provide invaluable experience.

I work across two fields – health promotion and people and culture. These fields consult with community groups and health organisations. Together, we promote and support groups involving older, younger and LGBTQI+ people and raise awareness about family violence. A focus of this role is team member wellbeing and health which includes consultation, organising events and implementing strategies to improve them. Well-developed organisational skills, good communication and the ability to coordinate large groups of people are essential in this role.

Swinburne student, Bronte, on professional placement at Rural Northwest Health.

I’m constantly taking on new challenges. One project involves arranging weekly posters for toilet doors within the hospital. The posters promote awareness of current health campaigns such as RUOK day. The project has been well-received and will be implemented across other regional organisations.

I’ve also been involved in promoting health and wellbeing at the local Hopetoun and Warrack Shows. It was fun experiencing a country agricultural show, especially the craft! Older Persons Day was also fantastic; I helped arrange activities for older community members, bringing them together for a chat and a laugh. It highlighted the importance of social interaction on our overall health.

Working in a rural area is challenging but also presents amazing opportunities. It can feel overwhelming settling in, but it didn’t take long to find my way around, make new friends and take up new activities (I never imagined myself line dancing)! Living so close to nature is a welcome change after studying in Melbourne for the past 18 months. The city can feel isolating and I don’t miss the traffic fumes and noise (but I do miss sushi)! In my spare time I read, embroider and watch Netflix. I go for nature walks and volunteer with the local Girl Guides. And if I need a shopping or movie fix, Horsham is only half an hour away.

My placement at Rural Northwest Health has revealed a rewarding career path in community health and health promotion. It has allowed me to see how the theory you learn at university is applied in the real world whilst observing the differences between rural and city health. I have developed many skills both professionally and personally and the support from supervisors has been amazing. It’s important for students to complete rural placements to understand the different aspects of community health and the challenges associated with a geographical location whilst seeing first-hand how health services combine to provide the best care for patients and the community.

The most important things I’ve learned on placement are: don’t be afraid to ask for help, celebrate the small achievements and the importance of social connection within a rural town.

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