Looking After Yourself on Rural Placements

where can you access support?

Supports and online resources for students

Health professionals as a group don’t look after themselves very well. Probably because they are so busy looking after others. 

Health students are also under a lot of pressure, and undertaking a rural placement – where their usual supports may not be immediately available – may cause an increase in stress.

But….there is support available. It’s free, it’s accessible, and it’s varied. It’s just a matter of reaching out for it.

So what is out there for students?

Supervisors and support staff at your placement site – Talk to them if you are comfortable to do so. They live and work in the area, so will have a lot of local information for you.

Reach out to other students on placement –  If anyone knows what you are going through in relation to your study and learning, they will. Find common ground and discuss problems and possible solutions.

Ask for help if you need it! No-one really knows what is going on with you except YOU. Each university has their own student counselling service. Make sure you have the contact details with you at all times.

Ring or video conference with your friends and family – Technology is a fantastic resource. Make best use of it.

But there are also resources that are especially relevant to students on rural placements, and are available at any time. 

The National Rural Health Student Network (NRHSN) Rural placements guide

The National Rural Health Student Network (NRHSN) Rural Placements Guide was developed to aid health students in preparing and getting the most out of their rural or remote placements. 

This is a fantastic guide that is great to read pre-placement.


National Rural Health Student Network (NRHSN) Mental Health Guide – when the cowpat hits the windmill

‘When the Cowpat Hits the Windmill’ is written by students for students.

This special publication focuses on how to stay mentally fit while on placement or working rurally. It contains tips on ways to maintain good mental health, how to adjust to life in a new town and a helpful checklist when preparing to go on placement. There is also a comprehensive list of contacts for national helplines and university support services.

It is available here: When The Cowpat Hits The Windmill

Going Rural Health - Online Course in Resilience, Wellbeing and Self-Care

This program has been developed to help participants reflect on the notion of self-care and, through careful thought management, learn about ways of thinking and acting that are “kinder to self”.

The online modules:

  • Provide opportunities to reflect on the circumstances that can make working in rural health challenging and how these challenges may affect a health professional’s emotional wellbeing.
  • Discuss the benefits to be gained from Acceptance and Commitment Training principles of mindfulness, acceptance and values based action.

There are exercises and small quizzes to work through and its hoped participants will learn new and better ways to manage difficult emotions and experiences that show up in our workplaces from time to time.  At completion a certificate will be issued to you.

The course is available here: Online course in Resilience, Wellbeing & Self-Care

CRANA plus Bush Support Services

The CRANAplus Bush Support Service is a free and confidential telephone counselling service for rural and remote area health professionals and their families. This includes students when they are on rural placements.

  • Toll free 24 hour free phone counselling service for those in rural areas
  • Phone 1800 805 391 anytime

Trish Thorpe

Associate Lecturer, Rural Placement Co-ordinator

Clinical Biochemist/Medical Scientist & Teacher

Going Rural Health Ballarat