PhD candidate Danielle Jocumsen is hoping her research will help rural and regional nurses (Photo: CQU)

February 6, 2024 

Nursing is never an easy gig, but in rural and remote communities nurses can face an especially steep learning curve, and not just in the emergency department.

That was Danielle Jocumsen’s experience as she headed for her first graduate role as a registered nurse.

Now a nursing academic and CQ University PhD candidate, Danielle is seeking other rural and remote nurses to share their experiences for her research.

“When I started as a graduate RN, I definitely wasn’t ready for type of trauma that came in,” she said.

“I’d been at Hervey Bay hospital and seen car accident patients, but this was injuries from demolition derbies out in paddocks, fallen riders in camel races, farm machinery injuries.

“And I wasn’t prepared for how tough farmers were.

“I remember one farmer presenting with what he called a ‘bit of a cut’ on his leg, and I was trying to organise an airlift for another patient, so I asked him if he could wait for 20 minutes.

“He was fine with that. but when I actually looked under the bandages, a piece of leg fell out, about three hands in length, it was not a ‘bit of a cut’.

“That’s something rural nurses have to learn fast – listen to the patient but don’t stop there, actually look for yourself!”

Ms Jocumsen hopes her research will help establish a minimum skillset required for nurses new to rural and remote environments and identify ways to prepare them for the unique challenges.

“You really need to be able to hit the ground running with practical skills like cannulation and taking blood, as well as just experience thinking practically and outside the box, which isn’t something that university always trains you for,” she said.

“Then having the confidence in those skills to complete procedures under duress.

“I remember treating one older lady who’d been transported by her son in the back of his ute, she had a likely fractured hip and was in a lot of pain.

“Between myself, an enrolled nurse and the son, I needed to place the cannula in the ute tray by torchlight, before we could remove her from the ute and on to a bed.”

Despite the challenges, Ms Jocumsen says she thrived as a rural nurse and wants other nurses to get the same experience, but with more preparedness, and feeling less overwhelmed.

“I’d planned to stay one year and finish my graduate year, and instead I stayed three and completed my RIPRN (Rural and Isolated Practice Registered Nurse) and Immunisation Endorsement,” she said.

“When I moved back to my hometown, I cried all the way – I felt I belonged in both places.”

Ms Jocumsen hopes her research will help the seven million Australians who live in rural and remote locations, and who face shorter life spans and higher levels of disease and injury compared to metropolitan residents.

“If we can ensure that nurses commencing work in rural and remote hospitals are prepared, confident and competent for the unique demands, then that can improve outcomes for people outside our cities,” she said.

Rural and remote registered nurses have been invited to participate in the study.

They should contact Ms Jocumsen via email to express their interest.

The research is being supervised by CQ University School of Nursing, Midwifery and Social Sciences academics Associate Professor Pauline Calleja, Dr Ashlyn Sahay and Dr Amy-Louise Byrne.


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