New program helping nurses to work to their full scope

Thursday, November 10, 2022

A chance secondment to the state’s Far North has seen oncology nurse Clinton Archer moving from the sunny Gold Coast to the even sunnier town of Roma.

Clinton and his wife Paula spent three months working in Cooktown’s Multi-Purpose Health Service (MPHS) in 2022, worlds apart from their substantive roles at the 900-bed Gold Coast University Hospital.

“We fell in love with Cooktown. We loved the idea of rural and remote nursing, expanding our skills, working to maximise our scope of practice, and working with different people and cultures and in a different environment,” Clinton said.

Despite working in oncology for 11 years including chemotherapy, monoclonal administration, and specialised cancer roles, Clinton said it was a bit of a culture shock returning to the Gold Coast after working in the Torres and Cape. “We struggled to settle back in and started to look for opportunities to move. My wife secured a job in Roma working in primary and community nursing, and I was fortunate to secure a position with the Rural Generalist Registered Nurse Program a few months later,” he said.

Clinton Archer, Oncology Nurse

The Rural Generalist Registered Nurse Program, run by CEQ’s Office of the Chief Nursing and Midwifery Officer (OCNMO), is a Queensland-first program attracting nurses to grow their knowledge and skills to transition to rural and remote practice. Seventeen (17) nurses started in the program last month, with some – like Clinton - moving from metro areas to try something different.

While each nurse’s employment will be different, Clinton’s first six months in Roma is funded by OCNMO where he must complete up to six core modules. The modules cover leadership skills, adult and paediatric advanced life support, triaging skills, and critical thinking and analysis from a nursing perspective. “Once that is done, I will work with the South West Hospital and Health Service for another six months to gain additional skills and knowledge to make me a well-rounded rural generalist nurse,” Clinton said.

While Clinton said Roma Hospital was like a “very small GCUH”, going into places like Injune and Quilpie was where he could put his skills to the test. “You use more of your scope - I’m dealing with things now that I’m not used to. Which is nerve-wracking, but the South West has very supportive staff who have been encouraging me. The environment and community are really good,” he said.

Queensland’s Chief Nursing and Midwifery Officer Associate Professor Shelley Nowlan said rural and remote nursing was appealing to nurses because of the variety it offered. “They see the program as a great opportunity to try something different and to help them transition into rural and remote practice,” Assoc. Prof. Nowlan said. “There are nurses who have just finished their graduate program and would like to continue to work in their existing HHS to further develop and consolidate their skills, and also experienced nurses who would like to see a different side of nursing, especially after the pandemic.”

For anyone thinking about a career change, Clinton’s advice is “don’t hold back”.

“Just go for it. I considered rural and remote nursing for a long time. I’ll always have my oncology skills and knowledge, but now I want to learn more, be supported, and just get out there,” he said.

The Rural Generalist Registered Nurse Program is just one of Queensland Health’s strategies to address the challenges of recruitment and retention in rural and remote communities.

Anyone interested in the Rural Generalist Registered Nurse Program who would like to learn more can email

Last updated: 10 November 2022