Building capability of supervisors of nursing students in rural areas: Whole of Community Facilitator Model of Support

Ms Elaine Bentley1, Mrs Denise McLean2

1University Of Tasmania, Latrobe, Australia, 2Tasmanian Health Service, Deloraine, Australia


Supervisors in healthcare settings in rural Tasmania are willing to host students on placement, however there are many challenges that impact the provision of supervision of students. Challenges include limited capacity to support formal supervisory roles; perceived lack of support from relevant education providers and complexities related to students’ attending placement.

In Tasmania, the introduction of Whole of Community Facilitators (WOCFs) within rural townships has mitigated these challenges. WOCFs provide direction, guidance and mentorship to students and their supervisors, with a focus on building capability of organisations to host students. WOCFs work within a geographic location, rather than a single facility and are employed across a calendar year. Feedback suggests having a single point of contact for students and their supervisors within a rural area is beneficial for each stakeholder group.

Feedback from a rural facility demonstrates the WOCF role has positively impacted the team, particularly the NUM who previously undertook much of the support for students, including orientation, interim and final reviews.

WOCFs work at the interface between the host organisation and UTAS thus improving communication efficacy between the two. WOCFs ensure students receive pre-PEP information, are greeted and oriented at the start of their placement, undertake student reviews, and work collaboratively with university staff. WOCFs support preceptors who work with the students, developing resources and undertaking education sessions, particularly related to student learning, support and assessment thereby promoting positive outcomes and high-quality student placements, which in turn may encourage students to seek employment opportunities in rural areas post-graduation.


Elaine Bentley RN, MA Advanced Nursing Practice (Nurse Practitioner), PGrad Dips: (Social Dimensions of Health); (Respiratory Nursing); (Sexual Health). Elaine works for the University of Tasmania as a Lead Facilitator: Rural Health Multidisciplinary Training (RHMT) Program, supporting Whole of Community Facilitators (WOCFs) across the state. Elaine was previously a lecturer in Nursing with the University of Tasmania. She is a Nurse Practitioner and worked in general practice and community settings in the UK, in addition to project management roles with a workforce development confederation. Elaine migrated to Australia in 2008, living and working in Tasmania since then.

Denise McLean RN, BHSN, Grad dip in Primary Health Care and Child and Family Health Care Nursing. Denise has been nursing since 1981 in both the public and private health care settings and currently works for the Tasmanian Health Service combining her role as a Grade 4 Registered Nurse at Deloraine District Hospital and a Whole of Community Facilitator supporting nursing students on placement and their supervisors within the Meander Valley. The health care settings include acute surgical nursing, community health nursing, aged care, GP Practice Nurse, rural and remote hospitals around Lutruwita (Tasmania).