Roles of rural and remote registered nurses in Australia: an integrative review

Muirhead, Susan, and Birks, Melanie (2020) Roles of rural and remote registered nurses in Australia: an integrative review. Australian Journal of Advanced Nursing, 37 (1). pp. 21-33.

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Objective: The aim of this review is to explore the multifaceted roles of registered nursing practice in rural and remote areas of Australia.

Background: People in rural and remote Australia have less access to healthcare than their metropolitan counterparts. They are also burdened with higher rates of chronic disease and premature mortality. These areas also have less doctors and allied health professionals than metropolitan areas, with the core workforce being registered nurses. One strategy to address the health workforce disparities, is to promote registered nurses to work to their full scope and in advanced generalist roles. An understanding of the current roles of the registered nurse is therefore required to assist in determining how their scope could be extended, and to inform appropriate educational planning.

Study design and methods: An integrative review of literature was used to obtain articles from online databases relevant to nursing from 1995 to 2017. Data was quality appraised, extracted, and thematically analysed.

Results: Registered nurses in rural and remote Australia work in diverse contexts that have a major influence on the roles they undertake. They are already required to be multi-skilled and to practice at an advanced level, including undertaking some aspects of the health professional role traditionally the domain of medical practitioners. These registered nurses often feel unprepared for the breadth and complexity of this role.

Discussion: To enable registered nurses to be adequately prepared for rural and remote practice, educational programs need to be flexible, accessible and affordable. The registered nurse's existing experience and expertise should be recognised, and educational pathways structured to enable the nurse to expand their practice according to the context in which they work and the needs of the community.

Conclusion: Registered nurses in rural and remote areas function as advanced generalists. Greater understanding these roles is necessary to inform the development of 'fit for purpose' educational models.

Implications for research, policy and practice: Future research is needed to focus on evaluation of existing models of rural and remote nursing practice and in particular the role of the nurse as doctor substitute. The findings of this study highlight the potential expanded contribution of registered nurses in these areas, which is an important factor for consideration by policy makers. In practice, supportive frameworks are required to ensure registered nurses are able to function to their full capacity in their unique context.

Item ID: 64699
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1447-4328
Keywords: Educational models, rural nursing, nurse role, remote area nurse
Copyright Information: © 2019 Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation. All rights reserved.
Date Deposited: 21 Oct 2020 08:05
FoR Codes: 42 HEALTH SCIENCES > 4205 Nursing > 420599 Nursing not elsewhere classified @ 100%
SEO Codes: 20 HEALTH > 2003 Provision of health and support services > 200307 Nursing @ 100%
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