Towards a Health Career for Rural and Remote Students : Cultural and Structural Barriers Influencing Choices

A. Durey, Ann Larson, Beverley Mcnamara

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Citations (Scopus)


Objective:To promote tertiary health careers to rural and remote young people. Design:Qualitative research using large and small group discussions and semistructured interviews. Setting:Fifteen secondary schools in rural and remote Western Australia including five senior secondary schools and 10 district high schools. Subjects:One hundred and twenty students from eight year 10 groups, 35 students from three year 11 groups, 54 students from five year 12 groups, 52 parents, 10 grandparents, 76 teachers and four Aboriginal and Islander Education Officers (AIEO). Results:Students prefer information about the range of health careers to be delivered interactively. Choices to follow a health career at tertiary level were constrained by structural and cultural issues including geographical isolation, financial cost, stereotyping of health professions, insufficient information about the diversity of health careers, obligation to family, community and place and a devalued rural culture. Conclusions:The under representation of rural and remote students in health related university courses needs to be addressed by long-term strategies taking into account both structural and cultural barriers when making career choices. Health policies should include the provision of financial support for rural and remote students and promote a broad range of health careers as challenging and rewarding life choices that offer much needed services to rural communities.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)145-150
JournalAustralian Journal of Rural Health
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2003


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