Mentorship and workplace support needs of new graduate physiotherapists in rural and remote settings: A qualitative study

Romany Anne Martin, Allison Mandrusiak, Andric Lu, Roma Forbes


Introduction: New graduate physiotherapists working in rural and remote Australia must develop unique skills to work in this setting, while at the same time managing the difficulties typically faced by novice practitioners entering the workforce. Workplace mentorship is commonly used to facilitate this transition, yet little is known about new graduate physiotherapists’ needs in rural and remote settings. This study aimed to explore workplace mentorship in rural and remote Australia from the perspective of new graduate physiotherapists and investigate what new graduates feel they need from mentorship that is specific to rural and remote settings.

Methods: A qualitative study with a thematic analytical approach was used. Semi-structured interviews of 12 new graduate physiotherapists working in rural and remote settings were undertaken within the graduates’ first 8 to 10 months of clinical practice. Interviews were audio-recorded between August and November 2019.

Results: Three key themes were constructed during the analysis: 1) Mentorship is best when it is frequent and consistent, 2) Initiating mentorship can be challenging and 3) Mentorship needs to be accessible and individualised.

Conclusion: There are challenges to mentorship of new graduate physiotherapists in rural and remote areas, including infrequency of mentorship, limited access to mentors and reluctance to request support. Whilst new graduate physiotherapists desire mentorship that is accessible, individualised and, ultimately, similar to what they perceive they would receive in the metropolitan setting, they acknowledge that to suit rural and remote localities, the delivery must be flexible. Mentorship is considered critical to support new graduates entering rural and remote settings.


rural; remote; new graduate; physiotherapy; mentorship

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