Rural Community Nurses: Insights into Health Workforce and Health Service Needs in Tasmania

By Annette Barrett, Daniel R. Terry, Quynh Lê and Ha Hoang.

Published by The International Journal of Health, Wellness and Society

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Published Online: September 10, 2015 $US5.00

Community nurses often work in isolation, particularly in rural areas where many other non-government adjunct health services are absent. At times, they feel overwhelmed, stressed and undervalued while undertaking diverse responsibilities. The study aimed to examine the benefits and challenges community nurses experience when working in rural and remote areas of Tasmania, Australia while determining the specialty skills and practices to meet rural health needs. An explorative research design using a phenomenological approach was adopted. Data were collected through semi-structured interviews with a convenient sample of 15 community nurses from the North and North-west areas of Tasmania. This yielded insight into the rural workforce challenges, gaps in services and the community nurses' lived experience of providing adequate health services to these communities. The results indicated significant variations in the structure and type of community nursing services and a number of key challenges were identified within the profession. Despite these challenges community nurses interviewed indicated high levels of job satisfaction and long term employment. Given the diversity in both community nursing roles and factors impacting on the role further research is required to examine the exact roles and levels of integration between specialist and generalist community nursing roles while exploring and more clearly defining the role of the contemporary community nurse in Australia. Consideration should also be given to embracing community nursing diversity which is an important aspect of best practice for future community nursing.

Keywords: Community Health, Rural Health, Nursing, Skills, Challenges, Employment Satisfaction

The International Journal of Health, Wellness and Society, Volume 5, Issue 3, September 2015, pp.109-120. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Published Online: September 10, 2015 (Article: Electronic (PDF File; 536.417KB)).

Annette Barrett

Nurse Unit Manager, Tasmanian Health Organisation-North, Westbury Community Health Centre, Department of Health and Human Services, Westbury, Tasmania, Australia

Dr. Daniel R. Terry

Research Assistant - Chronic Ill Health, Department of Rural Health, University of Melbourne, Shepparton, Victoria, Australia

Dr. Quynh Lê

Lecturer, University Department of Rural Health, University of Tasmania, Launceston, Tasmania, Australia

Dr. Ha Hoang

Postdoctoral fellow, University Department of Rural Health, University of Tasmania, Launceston, Tasmania, Australia