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Nurs Leadersh (Tor Ont). 2008;21(3):54-63.

"There's rural, and then there's rural": advice from nurses providing primary healthcare in northern remote communities.

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Dalhousie University School of Nursing, 5869 University Ave., Halifax, NS.


Nursing practice in remote northern communities is highly complex, with unique challenges created by isolation, geography and cultural dynamics. This paper, the second of two focusing on the advice offered by nurses interviewed in the national study, The Nature of Nursing Practice in Rural and Remote Canada, considers suggestions from outpost nurses. Their advice to new nurses was: know what you are getting into; consider whether your personal qualities are suited for northern practice; learn to listen and listen to learn; expect a steep learning curve, even if you are experienced; and take action to prevent burnout. Recommendations for educators were to offer programs that prepare nurses for the realities of outpost nursing and provide opportunities for accessible, flexible, relevant continuing education. The outpost nurses in this study counselled administrators to stay in contact with and listen to the perspectives of nurses at the "grassroots," and not merely to fill positions but instead to recruit outpost nurses effectively and remunerate them fairly. The study findings highlighted the multiple interrelated strategies that nurses, educators and administrators can use to optimize practice in remote northern communities.

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