Objective To date, there are few data on pharmacy-specific placement programs and their impact on students’ work after graduation. The present study evaluated an innovative rural pharmacy placement program targeted at influencing students to work and live in rural areas after graduation. A secondary aim of the study was to explore the students’ intentions to come back and practice in rural areas as a result of their involvement in the rural pharmacy program. Methods A questionnaire was distributed, by hand, to a total of 58 third and fourth (final) year pharmacy students undertaking their rural placement in the Gippsland region, in rural Victoria in 2011 and 2012. Results Fifty-seven responses were returned (response rate = 98%). Students stated that understanding pharmacy practice from a rural perspective, visits to rural health professionals and sites and the attitude of their preceptors were essential to their satisfaction with their rural placements. A significant number of students (72%) intend to seek employment in rural areas if opportunities arise as a result of their increased rural awareness. The key components for a successful rural placement program were described by the surveyed students as social awareness, recognising job opportunities and interprofessional learning. Conclusion The evaluation of the rural placement program revealed that students valued their visits to rural sites and their interaction with other rural health professionals the most. What is known about the topic? Rural undergraduate student programs have been initiated as a result of several Australian government strategies to address shortages in rural health workforce. Subsequently, various rural placement programs have been integral parts of several disciplines, including medicine, dentistry, nursing, occupational therapy and pharmacy among others. To date, there are few data on pharmacy-specific placement programs and their impact on students’ work after graduation What does this paper add? The rural pharmacy program is important in influencing students’ perceptions and interest in a career in rural areas. The key components for a successful rural placement program were described by the surveyed students as social awareness, recognising job opportunities and interprofessional learning. What are the implications for practitioners? Interprofessional learning and collaboration are inevitable due to the shortage of health professionals and the move towards holistic management of patients in healthcare settings. The development of an interprofessional rural education that combines rural medical and pharmacy students together highlights the importance of an interprofessional approach to preparing students to work in rural areas.