Deepening the understanding of rural Australian healthcare practice through the health humanities

This immersive workshop delves into the transformative potential of health humanities as a pedagogical tool for understanding and addressing healthcare challenges in rural Australia. This interactive session invites health professionals and students to cultivate a nuanced understanding of rural healthcare and communities.

The workshop will briefly overview the theoretical foundations underpinning health humanities, emphasising its role in fostering empathy and critical thinking. Through the lens of literature, arts, and storytelling, attendees will gain insights into the factors influencing healthcare in rural regions and how to show rural context to allied health professionals and students transitioning to rural practice.

The interactive activities will focus on ‘close noticing’ (building critical observation skills to help assess community needs) and ‘close reading’ (developing narrative competence through interpreting textual matter).1 Specifically, participants will use visual thinking strategies (VTS) in analyzing context through rural imagery2, parallel note-taking in applying empathy to an individual’s situation3, and facilitated discussion of rural people’s narratives. Participants will also be encouraged to be reflexive through journaling throughout the workshop to record and explore their perceptions of rural healthcare.

The workshop addresses the cognitive aspects of learning about rural healthcare but also considers creative and emotional dimensions that inform how we understand rurality. Participants will leave with practical insights and adaptable activities to incorporate health humanities into their practice.

1. Harvey, P., Chiavaroli, N.& Day, G. The Arts and Humanities in Health Professional Education in Clinical Education for the Health Professions: Theory and Practice Nestel, D., Reedy, G., McKenna, L, Gough, S., eds. Springer; 2020
2. Yenawine, P. Visual Thinking Strategies. Massachusetts: Harvard Education Press; 2014
3. Charon R. Narrative medicine: honoring the stories of illness. New York: Oxford University Press;2006

Dr Pam Harvey has a background in physiotherapy and health professions education, and is a Senior Lecturer and the Director of Rural Nursing and Allied Health Partnerships in Monash University's School of Rural Health. She had twenty years of clinical experience as a physiotherapist working across private and public sectors before working in the higher education industry. She is a director on the board of the Australian Rural Health Education Network and a council representative for the National Rural Health Alliance. Pam's research focuses on rural workforce and healthcare models, particularly in aged and primary care, and health professional education. She has experience in the co-design of rural healthcare models through her collaboration with Murray Primary Healthcare Network's place-based models of sustainable rural healthcare.