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Nurse practitioner locums: a plausible solution for augmenting health care access for rural communities
journal contributionposted on 2021-01-01, 00:00 authored by Natasha Jennings, Grainne Lowe, Kathleen Tori
With 2020 being designated the Year of the Nurse and Midwife, it is opportune to acknowledge and recognise the role that nurses undertake in primary care environments. Nurses and midwives play a pivotal role in the delivery of high-quality health care, particularly in geographically challenged areas of Australia, where they may be the only provider of care within their communities. Rural and remote health services require strategic planning to develop and implement solutions responsive to the challenges of rural and remote communities. Maintenance of health services in rural and remote areas is a challenge, crucial to the equity of health outcomes for these communities. Many small communities rely on visiting medical officers to provide the on-call care to facility services, including emergency departments, urgent care centres, acute wards and aged care facilities. It is increasingly difficult to maintain the current rural workforce models, particularly the provision of after-hours ‘on-call’ care necessary in these communities. An alternative model of health care service delivery staffed by nurse practitioners (NP) is one proposed solution. NPs are educated, skilled and proven in their ability to provide an after-hours or on-call service to meet the expectations of rural and remote communities. Achievement of high-quality health care that is cost-efficient, safe and demonstrates improved patient outcomes has been reported in NP-led health care delivery impact evaluations. The value of an NP locum service model is the provision of a transparent, reliable service delivering consistent, equitable and efficient health care to rural and remote communities.