Aaron Richardson started his career as a hospital-based Registered Nurse working the wards of the Princess Alexandria Hospital in Brisbane.  Since taking his nursing remote, Aaron has never looked back.

“I saw an email advertising short-term remote nursing in Indigenous communities through the Remote Area Health Corps and I applied.  I found out my application was successful on Christmas Eve 2008, and by the 7th January 2009 I was flying out to Alice Springs for Ampilatwatja. It was incredibly quick,” said Aaron.

“The placement was great.  I didn’t really have a background in remote primary health care or emergency health care, but I was familiar with providing primary health care. It was a great placement - I absolutely loved it.

“They say that the sand gets in your blood when you come out here and I think it is very true.”

Aaron returned to his hospital job in Brisbane but wasn’t done with remote nursing.

“I only lasted another three months back in my day job because as soon as I finished my first placement, I wanted to go back.”

Aaron says his employer, the Princess Alexandria Hospital, was supportive of him undertaking remote placements as a great opportunity for professional development.

“I was very lucky that my employer granted me leave without pay so I could go and work remote, and expand my skills while I was at it.  It is just the most rewarding work. It’s great.”

Aaron has continued working remote since the first placement in January 2009, and eventually became an employee of RAHC as a Clinical Coordinator for Central Australia and the Barkley region.

“I now support all of the RAHC health professionals that come to the Northern Territory for short-term placements. I follow up with phone calls to make sure they are travelling ok and see if they have any clinical concerns or if there have been any incidents.

“I also ensure that new nurses have a clinical educator with them when going out on their first placement, as well as coordinating all of their paperwork. I’m available to support them 24/7.

Aaron says that nurses who have considered going remote but don’t necessarily think they have enough or the right experience should think again.

“People get bogged down in the fact that they want to keep preparing to come out remote but they actually just need to take the leap and do it.

“Obviously we want people to come out here who have some experience and safe clinical practice, but at the same time you just need to take the leap.”

Aaron recommends remote nursing to nurses with a minimum of five years’ experience, and says there is ongoing support available.

“RAHC makes sure all of our health professionals are fully supported. We want to try and alleviate that feeling of being dropped in the deep end.

“It is challenging, I’m not going to lie, but it is just so rewarding,” said Aaron.

The Remote Area Health Corps (RAHC) offers short-term paid placements to urban-based health professionals to support the hard working permanent health workforce in over 100 remote Indigenous communities in the Northern Territory.

This article was originally published in the Rural/Remote Health special edition of the Nursing Post magazine on 29/10/12.