Rural nursing: a career that challenges and rewards young and old

July 7, 2008

Bingara Community Hospital Manager Sue Mack said it takes a special kind of person to fill the shoes of a rural and remote nurse; someone who isn’t afraid to become skilled enough to confidently and professionally cope with challenges across all areas of health care.

She said rural nursing has many challenges and rewards and she thinks it’s high time other nurses got to see what small hospitals have to offer. “We currently have two Registered Nurses who are completing their post graduate year at Bingara Community Hospital, both of whom said they were wary about coming to a small hospital because they thought there might not be the breadth of training they needed. “But their experience has proved this fear to be a myth. In fact, both nurses have been amazed at the support, exposure and experience they are gaining here,” she said.

Sue said Bingara is one of the smallest facilities to offer postgraduate placement within Hunter New England Health, with its mix of residential aged care, acute and community health services.

Graduate nurses Heidi Lee and Taryn Atkins both completed their nursing degree at the University of New England last year and both have discovered a love of rural nursing. “Heidi and Taryn were both advised to try the specialty nursing areas available at larger hospitals, but they have found that the generalist nature of a small hospital gives them a broader understanding of what nursing is all about,”

Ms Mack said. “Here they get a hands-on approach to learning, where they are an integral part of our nursing team and are always encouraged to ask questions. “At Bingara on a daily bases their job entails supervision of the aged care ward, managing the acute ward, medication rounds, bed management, managing the roster, assisting with doctors rounds, attending courses, transferring and accepting transfers from larger hospitals, working as a team running a whole hospital, not to mention managing patients that come into the Emergency Department,” she said.

Heidi and Taryn have discovered a huge respect for rural nurses, whose skills and approach to nursing is nothing short of ‘amazing’. “The ability and knowledge of rural nurses is so extensive – it has to be to face all the challenges that the hospital provides. “And it is very encouraging too for our senior nurses to see the enthusiasm of young nurses coming up the ranks,” she said.

Sue Mack said she would like to see more young nurses encouraged to experience the wealth of opportunities available to rural nurses. “Rural nursing is a profession that involves daily challenges, huge rewards, wide opportunities for advancement and multi-skilling, and is always in huge demand.”