Online multidisciplinary integrated rural healthcare education programs during the COVID-19 pandemic for students from different universities: experiences and guidelines
Purpose: The COVID-19 pandemic has led to “forced innovation” in the health education industry. High-quality training of the future rural health workforce is crucial to ensure a pipeline of rural health practitioners to meet the needs of rural communities. This paper describes the implementation of an online multidisciplinary teaching program focusing on integrated care and the needs of rural communities. Design/methodology/approach: A multidisciplinary teaching program was adapted to allow students from various disciplines and universities to learn together during the COVID-19 pandemic. Contemporary issues such as the National Aged Care Advocacy Program for Residential Aged Care COVID-19 Project were explored during the program. Findings: This case study describes how the program was adopted, how learning needs were met, practical examples (e.g. the Hand Hygiene Advocacy within a Rural School Setting Project), the challenges faced and solutions developed to address these challenges. Guidelines are proposed for remote multidisciplinary learning among health professional students, including those in medical, nursing, pharmacy, dentistry, and allied health disciplines. Originality/value: The originality of this program centers around students from multiple universities and disciplines and various year levels learning together in a rural area over an extended period of time. Collaboration among universities assists educators in rural areas to achieve critical mass to teach students. In addition it provides experiences and guidance for the work integrated learning sector, rural health workforce practitioners, rural clinical schools, universities, policy makers, and educators who wish to expand rural online multidisciplinary learning.
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