Section 9: Summary and Top Tips for a Successful RHSV
Get in early and keep in contact
Make the initial contact early in the year as term timetables fill very quickly. Once the initial letter has been sent, a follow-up phone call or email within one week is imperative as an expression of continued interest and to keep the school updated or informed if verbal communication is more convenient for them. After a successful RHSV, make sure to send a thank you letter and/or prepare a thank you gift for involved staff members. Add the school visited and staff member contact details to the master RHSV document for your RHC and/or region of RHCs.
Invite a variety of general RHC members as well as RHC exec to facilitate RHSVs
It is important to emphasise the variety of entry pathways into university. Try and take a multidisciplinary team on the RHSV made up of different genders. If possible, take an exec member who has facilitated a RHSV before, such as a former or current RHSV Director.
Bring lots of hands-on equipment
Hands-on interaction is very effective in engaging all age groups and demographics. Pack anything that high school students will unlikely damage or break, for example, stethoscopes, tendon hammers, blood pressure cuffs, blood glucose monitors, strapping tape and crepe bandages.
Don’t forget to do a stocktake of equipment and merchandise after your RHSV!
Pack prizes and RHC merchandise
Edible goods and RHC or NRHSN merchandise as prizes can make it easier to encourage student participation. RHC freebies can make the RHSV more memorable for when the time comes to order university preferences, choose university courses and consider future RHC sign-ups! For a healthy alternative, try handing out fruit as immediate prizes. To minimise distraction, consider distributing prizes at the end of the session.
Organise a briefing day for RHSV volunteers before the RHSV
A RHSV briefing day is a great way to get to know your fellow RHSV volunteers and exec, as well as set expectations for the trip. This is especially useful for longer RHSV trips where multiple schools will be visited over more than one day. Consider reiterating the purpose of RHSV, explaining expectations of volunteers, delegating roles for the RHSV, discussing possible goals and outcome of the visit, and addressing any concerns. See Section 5 for more details on goals. If a briefing day is not possible, you may wish to send out a briefing document explaining all these details.
Break the ice
Use high profile sports trivia to help break the ice and encourage interaction. Some rural towns revolve around sport and as a result, many students are keen supporters of sporting events. Interacting with students in this way will make the session less didactic more effective in delivering your message.
Lesson plans are a good idea to maximise a RHSV’s allotted time, however there may be occasions where plans change according to the interests and engagement of the students. Your presentations should be made for your target audiences - Year 12 students may be more interested in scholarships, accommodation and entry pathways, verses Year 9 students.
Research different healthcare professions and think multidisciplinary
Talk to local healthcare professionals in the hospital and community, as well as use the internet to broaden your own understanding of multidisciplinary health. Reach out to your allied health or medicine friends, other university societies or other RHCs for volunteers interested in rural health. Local rural healthcare professionals from the town being visited could also be invited to speak at your RHSV. Prepare some university course-specific brochures to give away to interested students.
Have unstructured interaction time
Organise some intentional unstructured interaction outside of your structured program to interact with the students. This could allow for some more individual and meaningful conversations about aspirations after school and any questions the students may still have. This time could be during lunchtime if permissible, or even through delegating more time during small group sessions to build rapport with the students and get an insight into their lives.
An important part of growing as a health professional is the reflection process. For the RHC, supply student evaluation forms for the students to suggest improvements for future RHSVs as well as what they enjoyed about the day. For the RHSV director, it is valuable to receive anonymous feedback regarding your leadership style and organisational efforts. Debrief after the RHSV, whether over a meal or on another day is a good way to give verbal feedback to each other.