Rory McGrath-Swan

24 Apr 2016

Rory, a 3rd Year Bach­e­lor of Nurs­ing Stu­dent at UniSA, out­lines here what he learned on his recent place­ment. And it’s a lot more than fishing!


It didn’t take me long to accept a place­ment at the North­ern and Remote Coun­try Health Ser­vice in the com­mu­ni­ty of One Arm Point. I knew it would be a great oppor­tu­ni­ty to not only fur­ther my learn­ing in yet anoth­er area of nurs­ing but to spend time in what I con­sid­er to be one of Australia’s most unique and beau­ti­ful regions, the Kimberleys. 

A vis­it back in 2008 to the Indige­nous com­mu­ni­ty of Tjun­tjun­t­jara in remote West­ern Aus­tralia and a stint liv­ing in West­ern Australia’s far north­ern town of Kununur­ra stirred my inter­est in rural/​remote health and more specif­i­cal­ly in areas where Indige­nous peo­ple make up a sig­nif­i­cant pro­por­tion of the pop­u­la­tion. On these trips, I was exposed not only to the lifestyle of Australia’s rur­al towns and com­mu­ni­ties, but to the com­plex­i­ties of Indige­nous health and health deliv­ery in remote areas.
Since start­ing my nurs­ing stud­ies at the Uni­ver­si­ty of South Aus­tralia in 2011, I have main­tained a keen inter­est in Indige­nous health and have remained eager to prac­tice as a nurse with­in rur­al and remote set­tings in Aus­tralia. So, as my final place­ment approached, I began to think of ways to make it the most ben­e­fi­cial and excit­ing expe­ri­ence pos­si­ble. I knew sev­er­al peo­ple who had man­aged to gain place­ments in remote loca­tions and could think of noth­ing more excit­ing than to con­clude my final place­ment in a remote community.

…it was also a fan­tas­tic chance to immerse myself as much as pos­si­ble in the local com­mu­ni­ty and all that this has to offer: a great deal of which revolves around fishing!

Per­haps most sig­nif­i­cant in terms of expo­sure for myself was learn­ing so much about the dynam­ics of not only the com­mu­ni­ty clin­ic but also the com­mu­ni­ty itself. Due to the size of the com­mu­ni­ty, just 300 – 400 peo­ple, rela­tion­ships both inter-pro­fes­sion­al and casu­al often over­lap. This par­tic­u­lar char­ac­ter­is­tic, unique to work­ing in rur­al or remote areas, cre­ates a very par­tic­u­lar work­ing and liv­ing envi­ron­ment that we can be unac­cus­tomed to when com­ing from the more urban areas of the coun­try.

At the clin­ic I was lucky enough to be work­ing with two high­ly com­pe­tent nurs­es who hold a wealth of knowl­edge in regards to clin­i­cal nurs­ing in remote loca­tions. If there was one thing that this expe­ri­ence impart­ed on me, it was the respon­si­bil­i­ties that are placed on the remote nurse. With­out doc­tors or oth­er allied health pro­fes­sion­als present on a dai­ly or reg­u­lar basis, remote nurs­es must func­tion with an increased inde­pen­dence. With this increase in inde­pen­dence comes a huge increase in respon­si­bil­i­ty. I left this place­ment with the under­stand­ing that to be a remote nurse there are cer­tain expec­ta­tions in place regard­ing knowl­edge and skills – often far vaster than for their coun­ter­parts in the urban environment.


To be an effec­tive and effi­cient remote nurse is a great aspi­ra­tion and I look for­ward to giv­ing it a shot one day.