Going rural

By Clare Sandy, current UTS Bachelor of Midwifery student

Ever wondered what it would be like to work in a rural setting? In your 3rd year of the Bachelor of Midwifery course, you will have the opportunity to go on an (optional) rural placement.

Applying for rural placement

The Clinical Practice Unit (CPU) at UTS organises the paperwork side of placement, but you pick your top three hospitals and the placement period you prefer.

Picking a hospital might be easy – you may have always wanted to travel there or it may be where family/friends live whom you want to visit. Or, if you are like me, you may have no idea where to go! I knew I wanted a ‘rural’ experience away from the NSW coast, but close enough that I could drive there so I had my car to get around. I wanted to support women in labour so I didn’t want to pick a rural hospital with a small number of births.

Wagga Wagga Rural Referral Hospital

Wagga Wagga Rural Referral Hospital

So here’s some resources that can help you decide where to go:

  • Have a look at the health district options within NSW to get an idea of the hospitals you can pick from, then look at their websites and read about their maternity services.
  • Look up the latest NSW Mothers and Babies report to research birth information for the health district/hospital you are considering. Do they have many births? What is the number of vaginal births vs caesareans? Do they have an Indigenous population? Think about what you want to get out of the placement as you look through the statistics.
  • Would you prefer to spend some time in a birth centre while on rural placement? Look into what rural hospitals have a birth centre linked to them, you may be able to spend some time there. Best to check they are still open before applying if that’s something you are passionate about.
  • What is your budget for accommodation? Some hospitals offer on-site accommodation with basic single rooms with shared facilities for a small fee, other hospitals don’t. Accommodation is something you need to fund and source yourself. Log in to My Placement, open the tab ‘Faculty Documents’ and open the file ‘NSW Student Accommodation Listing’. This is a list of which hospitals have on-site accommodation, the cost and contact details. Best to contact them directly before you apply in case of any changes.

Preparing for rural placement

Basic accommodation

My room on-site at the hospital – basic, but cheap and clean!

Once your placement is confirmed by CPU, apply for an Undergraduate Clinical Placement Grant from NSW Health to help fund your expenses – the grant is based on the distance between your home and the rural hospital and you’ll need a letter from CPU to confirm your placement before you can apply – ensure it’s submitted by the due date.

Research the area – you may not have visited there before so google tourist websites and have a think about what you want to see and do in your time off.

You will be given the name and contact details of the Educator at the hospital – give them a call, introduce yourself and chat about your placement.

Some suggestions on what to pack:

  • You’ll be wearing your UTS uniform on placement so pack everything you normally take on a shift – your photo ID, fob watch, name tag, UTS student ID card, etc.
  • Your portfolio – you can complete sheets on rural placement too!
  • I stayed in hospital accommodation which was very basic with shared facilities so I chose to take my own sheets/towels/blankets to feel more ‘at home’, thongs for the shower, my own plate/bowel/glass/cutlery etc. as I wasn’t sure what the kitchen facilities would be like.
  • I used some of my time off to work on uni assignments so I took my laptop and uni work.
  • Internet access so you can have some down-time on Netflix 🙂

Your first day

This can be daunting, you may feel like a first year student all over again! Most people are really friendly in the country and they will make you feel very welcome. You first day may be spent with an Educator if there is one, a tour of the facility, meeting the Midwives, getting your swipe card access, doing OH&S paperwork, etc. It can be a lot to take in! You may already have your roster or they may create one when you arrive – have a think about what you want to get out of the placement in advance, eg. you may want to focus on births, working with Indigenous women or community care, etc.

Enjoy the experience

Time will go quickly so take advantage of all opportunities, ask questions, get involved and see how the Midwives manage care for women when there are no doctors on-site … because before you know it, your placement is finished!

My experience at Wagga Wagga Rural Referral Hospital (May 2018)

I had a great time on my placement – the Midwives and other staff were very welcoming and while it was challenging to learn my way around a new hospital, it was interesting to see how their procedures differed from my local hospital. What I wanted most out of my placement was to care for an Indigenous woman and I was lucky enough to do that, supporting her in labour and being the accoucher at the birth. I was also able to complete several portfolio pages.

I’d highly recommend Wagga Wagga to future Midwifery students!

Exploring my rural placement

Exploring the walking track around the beautiful Murrumbidgee River.

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