Nurses 'go bush' as part of a rural exchange program

A partnership with Far West Local Health District is giving graduate nurses the unique opportunity to experience working in the heart of a metropolitan hospital compared with some of the most remote parts of NSW.

“Based in the small outback towns of far west NSW, this new rural-metro exchange provides an invaluable experience for newly graduated nurses, giving them the opportunity to accelerate their careers,” said Lynette Higgs, Nurse Manager Professional Development and Clinical Support, Nursing Education Research and Leadership Unit, Sydney/Sydney Eye Hospital.

Likewise, nurses who have worked in the far west gain experience working in a major teaching hospital alongside surgical and medical specialists.

Graduate nurse, Bella, shares her experience working in the small town of Menindee – population 550 people.

With one 24/7 community health service, Bella’s been providing emergency care not just in Menindee but up to 100km out to remote areas.

“Nurses working out here need to learn everything, including working as a first responder – I was trained in driving an ambulance and responding first on the scene while on the phone to the Royal Flying Doctor Service – things you wouldn’t normally learn as a nurse in the city,” said Bella.

“This experience has been invaluable. It has fast tracked my skills, giving me the opportunity to work in many different areas of nursing.”

Another participant of the program, Isobel has just started her rural placement and will be based in Broken Hill for the next 6 months.

Isobel reflects on her experience so far. “With less people and less resources, but often more complex patients, you learn to become resourceful and do more with less.”

Both Bella and Isobel agree that our metro hospitals could learn a lot from rural hospitals and vice versa, highly recommending the exchange program to other graduates.

Graduate nurses at Sydney Eye Hospital