Introduction: This study is located at the complex intersection of healthcare service provision, healthcare workforce and practice-based education. The study explored postgraduate clinical psychology placements in rural and remote locations and was part of a larger study known as the Mental Health Tertiary Curriculum project.
Method: A qualitative approach incorporating thematic analysis was used to explore experiences. Ten structured individual interviews were conducted across Australia. Participants were eight postgraduate psychology students, one service provider and one representative of an educational institution.
Results: Two key themes were derived from the data. The first theme, 'Beyond expectations, but …', recognised the value of clinical placements from the students' perspectives, but cautioned against the challenges faced by supervisors supporting these placements. The second theme, 'Immersed in connectedness with …', makes explicit the growing sense of belonging and professional identity that accompanied students' engagement with their rural communities, other health professions and their own profession.
Conclusion: This study highlights the complexity of developing workplace readiness for psychology students and provides areas for future consideration including the role of practice-based education and where this notion fits within undergraduate psychology degrees.