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Differences between urban and remote nursing
CRANAplus Professional Officer Michelle Mason highlights some of the differences between urban and remote nursing, including location, staffing, skill set, resources and lifestyle, and provides general tips to prepare for going remote.
Generally, you have to travel to a remote setting, sometimes hours by road. Some remote places require a plane to get to, especially after a wet season as dirt roads can get cut off with water. A benefit of remote locations is that there’s no traffic or traffic lights! The Modified Monash Model can be a helpful guide to remoteness.
There are less staff based in a remote clinical facility (hospital or clinic) as there are less services available. In some settings there are no doctors on site permanently; instead, they’re on call via phone or teleconference.
In others, they visit regularly, such as once a week. In urban settings, you may have dozens of nurses in each department, along with clinical educators, managers, ancillary staff, admin staff and even emergency services with a simple 000 call. In a remote setting, the emergency services often consist of nurses or Aboriginal health practitioners. Specialists may visit remote regions less frequently, and referrals are required for some procedures such as surgery, scans, and X‑rays, which are often done in urban facilities.
Although there are many skills required to work in a metropolitan hospital, especially in specialist contexts such as Emergency and Intensive Care, working in a remote setting requires nurses to be ‘general specialists’ which means having varied experience, knowledge and skill across multiple areas. This may range from emergency skills, primary health care, health promotion, chronic diseases, palliative care, mental health, women’s health, and child’s health.
In many cases in remote settings, there may only be one or two shops available, a school and limited sports or community groups.
Major differences with lifestyles will depend on the location. Most remote places won’t have a coffee shop down the road but will have beautiful landscapes for walking, fishing, and camping.
The take home message?
Working in an urban setting and working in a remote setting are different types of nursing. Both have their rewards and challenges. It’s pivotal to do your research before choosing which type of nursing is for you.
If you decide you want to go remote, we encourage you to investigate the wide range of resources, support, and education CRANAplus can offer to support your transition to remote health care. Our ‘Going Remote Guide’ is a good place to start. We’re also happy to send printed copies out to you. You can request these via email@example.com.