Re-thinking approaches to undergraduate health professional education: Interdisciplinary rural placement program Academic Article uri icon


  • The Interdisciplinary Rural Placement Program involved the development, implementation and evaluation of a common rural primary health care module. Designed for undergraduate nursing, medical and pharmacy students of the University of Tasmania, students undertook clinical experiences and a collaborative primary health care project at two different Rural Health Teaching Sites across Tasmania. The aim of the project was for interdisciplinary students to work and learn together to enhance their understanding of the cooperative and collaborative nature of professional practice among rural health care workers. This paper will describe the development and implementation of the Interdisciplinary Rural Placement Program and critically discuss the outcomes in relation to nursing. In this paper, three issues will be explored. Firstly, how student nurses questioned their sense of subordination when in fact the level of recognition by their interdisciplinary peers led them to refute this. Secondly, concerns with overcoming the difficulties of coordinating student recruitment and conflicting timetables, while working within existing curricula, will be discussed. The final issue explores the student nurses' recognition that despite inherent tensions and conflict, the need to work as a cohesive and cooperative interdisciplinary team was vital. This project highlighted the challenges that health professions continue to work through in contemporary practice and education sectors. A key recommendation for education providers is that true interdisciplinary education must be achieved through an experiential framework.


  • Dalton, Lisa
  • Spencer, Judy
  • Dunn, Mark
  • Albert, Edi
  • Walker, Judith
  • Farrell, Gerry

publication date

  • January 2003