In rural areas, people often find it expensive and burdensome to access a primary healthcare provider because they must travel long distances. As a result, in many remote or rural areas in the US, people tend to forgo or postpone care, which can worsen their conditions or lead to complications.
According to Rural Health Information Hub, there was a 65.6% shortage of primary care health professionals in rural areas in the US as of September 2022. This shortage will increase as few healthcare professionals are keen to work in rural or remote settings. However, rural nursing offers unique rewards often not found in urban or suburban healthcare settings.
If you are looking for a change as a registered nurse, then consider rural nursing. With a terminal degree in nursing from the University of Indianapolis School of Nursing, you can become a changemaker and utilize your skills and knowledge to benefit the community. This degree is online and part-time, so you can easily pursue it while working. It enables you to become qualified in rural nursing and handle the unique healthcare needs of small communities. The program is open to nurses with a BSN and MSN allowing the students to learn doctorate-level skills to improve patient health outcomes.
If you are wondering about the unique benefits of working in a rural or remote setting, here are some compelling ones.
Opportunities for Community Engagement
Working as a rural nurse provides ample opportunities for community engagement. You cannot get this in urban settings. In a small, tight-knit community, nurses are often viewed as integral members of the community and play a vital role in the overall health and well-being of the population. In such a setting, nurses can work with individuals and families over extended periods. This enables them to build long-term relationships founded on trust and mutual respect. As a result, nurses become more than just healthcare providers – they can become confidants, advisors, and even friends.
Variety of cases and skills
One of the best aspects is that nurses are often generalists in remote settings. They are proficient in a wide range of healthcare disciplines. In small communities, healthcare resources are often limited. Hence, rural nurses should be equipped to handle various cases and medical emergencies. This can be a challenging and rewarding experience for nurses interested in expanding their knowledge and skill set. In a single day, nurses in remote communities may educate people about healthy diets, deliver babies, manage chronic illnesses, perform emergency procedures, and provide end-of-life care. This variety of cases and skills can be both intellectually stimulating and emotionally satisfying as nurses can constantly learn and grow in their profession.
Autonomy and Independence
As mentioned earlier, there is a shortage of healthcare providers in rural and remote areas. So, when nurses shift to these areas, they often work independently. This can be a demanding but gratifying experience for nurses interested in greater responsibility. In rural settings, nurses have to make clinical decisions without the support of a physician, manage patients in remote locations, and accompany patients to larger healthcare facilities. This level of autonomy and independence can be empowering, especially for those nurses who want a more hands-on and leadership-oriented role.
Working in a rural setting can enable nurses to enjoy a better work-life balance compared to urban or suburban healthcare settings. Rural communities often have a slower pace of life, less traffic, fewer crowds, and a stronger sense of community. This can translate to a more relaxed and less stressful work environment. As a result, nurses enjoy a better quality of life outside of work. Furthermore, in most rural settings, housing is more affordable, making it easier for nurses to purchase a home and put down roots in the community.
Opportunities for professional growth
In small communities, nurses often take on additional responsibilities beyond their primary nursing duties. They can manage a clinic or oversee a team of healthcare professionals. This provides valuable leadership experience and can open up new career paths for nurses interested in taking on management or administrative roles in healthcare. Rural nurses are often invited to participate in research projects to improve healthcare practices in rural communities.
As you can see, being a nurse in a rural community can be exciting, challenging, and immensely rewarding. There is no shortage of opportunities, so why not embark on a professionally and personally fulfilling journey?