Partnerships & Placement Planning
The critical importance of partnerships in placement planning
As my role transitions within the Going Rural Health team to focus more on the Mooroopna Schools Speech Pathology Program (see the section on ‘Mooroopna Schools Speech Pathology Program’ in our March 2021 newsletter HERE ), I have been reflecting on the critical importance of partnerships in the placement planning space. I have also been participating in a Purposeful Engagement workshop series hosted by the University of Melbourne.
Working for three years as a Community Placement Coordinator, building and developing partnerships with a variety of stakeholders has been critical in the creation of new and innovative placements. As we are in the business of non-traditional, service learning placements, this can sometimes be outside of the comfort zone for organisations and supervisors alike. Subsequently, some key principles of ethical engagement are required. Siew Fang Law outlines the following:
- Respectful: Do no harm, be compassionate. When placement planning, respect has mostly come in the shape of being mindful of the schedules, pressures and competing priorities of organisations and supervisors. We are asking them to take on something outside of their usual day to day, so it’s important that we ensure that it can fit within their other priorities, as well as making sure that it is not going to disadvantage anyone (whether that be school students, disability clients or staff members).
- Mutual and reciprocal: Collaborative processes and outcomes should be ultimately beneficial to those involved. Mutually beneficial placements are the ultimate goal of the Going Rural Health team. We invest time in making sure that the organisation and the students both walk away from the experience feeling they have gained something valuable and that an impact has been made. To do this we work with the placement organisations to identify any gaps or stressors and determine how students might be able to assist in that space. For example, helping to address waiting lists, piloting a new program, developing a resource or running some training.
- Fair and equitable: Establish a shared understanding of fairness, equality and equity. As part of the Rural Health Multidisciplinary Training program, a key goal is for the work of teams such as Going Rural Health is to address inequities in rural communities. This is why our team continues to look for placement opportunities in smaller and more rural towns, as well as identifying placement opportunities that support members of our community who experience disadvantage. For example, school students from low-socioeconomic backgrounds who may have experienced early trauma, or people with disabilities who have limited access to services.
- Sustainable: Outcomes and impacts take account of broader socio-cultural, economic, political, historical and environmental dimensions. There are many factors that are outside our locus of control when we are trying to establish placements. We don’t have an influence on the funding or resourcing of a service, or the hardship that may be experienced by members of the migrant community for example. We do, however, attempt to develop placements that are meaningful and flexible, particularly in the current climate of unpredictable lockdowns. You can read more about placement adaptations we made through the Victorian lockdown/s HERE.
I’m so grateful to the various partners I’ve had the pleasure of working with in the Goulburn Valley Region the past three years. There is definitely an appetite within the community to address health workforce shortages in innovative ways and the more we can bring universities on that journey as well, the better the outcomes for everyone.
Community Placements Co-ordinator
Going Rural Health Shepparton