Developing the rural and remote nursing and midwifery workforce for today and tomorrow

Prof. Sabina Knight1

1Centre For Rural And Remote Health, James Cook University, Mount Isa, Australia


This presentation explores the rapidly changing face of rural nursing and midwifery practice in the context of outback Queensland.

The evolution of funding models, PHC teams, rural generalism and technology both supports and demands nurses to reconfigure their practice to meet emerging local need. AHPRA will cease rural and isolated practice endorsement (RIPEN) in the near future and an education framework that meets both credentialing needs as well as public health and practice demands of rural and remote nurses is upon the sector. Those in the current workforce require access to ‘scaffolded’ training and CPD that results in appropriate confidence and competence.

Rural nurses need to be proactive in providing care in times of economic hardship and drought or post cyclone. They also need to recognise emerging public health problems of significance such as Q Fever, agricultural accident trends such as Quad bike related injury, mine dust lung disease, opioid and ice abuse and bore water parasite related encephalitis. Nurses and midwives also need to continue to  provide routine PHC services to both young and aging populations. The significance of public health in advanced practice is emerging as central to rural nursing.

MICRRH, JCU has embarked on a CPD program which will articulate with post graduate  studies in rural and remote nursing practice and  aims to develop a network of supervisors who will support nurses to develop rural generalist skills and practice to best meet the needs of the rural towns, services and communities and the profession.

This paper will detail the approach, the curriculum, funding and discuss challenges and progress to date.

The program is significant to the conference as it serves  to inform other rural or remote areas and services that need to quickly adjust to emerging service, legislative and practice needs.


Professor Sabina Knight is the Director of the Centre for Rural and Remote Health, one of an Australian national network of fifteen University Departments’ of Rural Health. A founding member and past president of CRANA, she is an internationally recognised veteran of rural and remote health and health workforce.

Her leadership roles have included the Council of Remote Area Nurses of Australia; the National Rural Health Alliance; Central Australian rural Practitioners Association; the Regional Women’s Advisory Council, the National Health and Hospital’s Reform Commission and the Townsville and North West Queensland Regional Development Australia board.