Rural Nurse Competencies: Experts, Advocates and Activists


Recently, I was contacted by a group of rural nurses asking if I had a set of competencies for nurses working in rural hospital. I have along with my colleague Dr. Jeri Dunkin, investigated competencies for rural community case managers. Having worked as a home health nurse in a rural environment and preparing case managers and outreach workers to provide services in the very rural Alabama, I believe that I can make a stab at identifying a beginning skill set for nurses who work in this environment.
I preface my delineation with the characteristics outlined in (Lee & Winters, 2006). Using these characteristics as a context, it becomes easier to start with identifying a basic skill set. I also have recently experienced the loss of a family member where lack of access to emergency care, hesitation to act in an emergent situation, and lack of knowledge or skill in a rural setting may have caused irreparable harm. I am not implying negligence or malpractice, but I am saying that lack of access, loss of precious time and simply the failure to maintain an airway and oxygenate the brain caused brain death once care was accessed. Nurses in the rural area are in a unique position to perhaps change and affect the quality of care received in a geographic ally isolated or rural area in very different ways than their urban counterparts.

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