Pilot program a clear success

Monday, July 3, 2023

A statewide project helping nurses to prepare for professional life in the bush has been deemed a resounding success.

With nurses often the first and only point of care in many rural and remote locations across Australia, they need to work across a variety of health settings and care for individuals across the lifespan. A role that requires a diverse set of skills.

The Rural and Remote Generalist Nurse Program (RRGNP) was established to pilot a standardised program of foundational skills for registered nurses (RNs) transitioning into a rural and/or remote context. Across 12 months, participants complete core and elective educational components equipping them with the essential skills, knowledge and abilities required for RNs working in rural and remote contexts.

With participating nurses having finished the core generalist training, they will now undertake elective modules until the program finishes later this year. Elective training components within the program allows flexibility to meet the participants individual developmental needs and to help address local community and health service needs.

Queensland’s Chief Nursing and Midwifery Officer Adjunct Professor Shelley Nowlan said the pilot was a success.

“A total of 17 RNs participated in the pilot across the Central West, Darling Downs, North West, South West and Torres and Cape health services,” she said.

“Our evaluation shows participants felt more confident to work in a rural or remote setting and there was overwhelming evidence that the program positively influenced their decision to stay in a rural and or remote area.

“And as the delivery of healthcare services in locations like these relies heavily on a sustainable nursing and midwifery workforce, it’s very important that our staff are not only capable and skilled, but willing to stay in the community longer-term,” Adj. Prof. Nowlan said.

One program participant willing to make the move, Clinton Archer, relocated from the busy Gold Coast to Roma in order to complete the program. He and his wife, Paula, said they “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.

Now the pilot has been proven to be effective, health services are being encouraged to continue the program.

“There are 10 participants still completing the program and they are being supported by nursing and midwifery directors of education and local educators, and with some inter-disciplinary and interhospital collaboration, we can see this continuing to work,” Adj. Prof. Nowlan said.

The program was a joint initiative between the Office of the Chief Nursing and Midwifery Officer (OCNMO) and the Office of Rural and Remote Health (ORRH). For more information on how it worked or other professional development opportunities, email OCNMO_ProfessionalCapability@health.qld.gov.au or visit Workforce webpage.

Last updated: 3 July 2023