On completion of this chapter, the reader will be able to:
describe the rural health workforcediscuss the role of a rural registered nurse or midwifeexplain the challenges of practising as a registered nurse or midwife in a rural contextidentify methods for ensuring currency of practiceexplain cultural responsiveness and how this concept can be embedded in practice.
Rural nursing and midwifery, practice, workforce, education, recency of practice
This chapter focuses on rural nursing and midwifery practice. For the purposes of discussion, the context of rural practice will include remote area nursing practice encompassing a wide range of health services and settings, including small inpatient and multipurpose facilities, aged care, general practice and community health, outreach services, sole practitioner sites and locally controlled Aboriginal community health services (Francis & Mills, 2011). Nurses and midwives employed in rural and remote health services face numerous challenges that will be discussed.
Australia, as highlighted in Chapter 1, is characterised as a large continent in which the majority of the population reside along the coastal perimeters and within urban or regional locations, with over two-thirds living in major cities (Baxter, Gray & Hayes, 2011). The population in rural and remote areas of Australia is small in comparison to the urban and regional areas of the continent (Baxter et al., 2011). Therefore, as the population dwindles in size, so do the resources available to these rural and remote populations. This affects the ability of an individual to receive the same health care as their urban counterparts (Carey, Wakerman, Humphreys, Buykx & Lindeman, 2013). The provision of healthcare professionals is another issue; it is often difficult to attract and maintain the services of healthcare providers in rural and remote areas of Australia (Yates, Kelly, Lindsay & Usher, 2013).