Educating Practitioners for Integrative Rural Practice
Arguably, living and working in rural communities can pose significant challenges for human service practitioners - challenges that are different from those encountered by their urban counterparts. Human services employers, like many other employers in rural areas, have difficulty in recruiting and retaining staff. There is now considerable evidence to support the notion that rural and remote practice constitutes a different and distinct form of practice and has undergone significant changes over the past decade. Living and working in rural communities means that practitioners are not only influenced by the rural and remote context of practice, they are also part of that context. Given the difficulty encountered in attracting and retaining rural practitioners and the changes in this area, an important question which emerges is: How can practitioners best be prepared for this work through largely urban based social work and human service education? The multifaceted and multilayered complexities in rural practice requires creativity, improvisation and a capacity for 'integrative thinking' (Martinez Brawley 2002) This paper discusses six elements of newer forms of rural and remote practice and how they might be most effectively addressed through social work and human service curricula. An education model which integrates these elements and other principles for rural practice is proposed.