Rural Health Nurse

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Basic description

A rural health nurse is a generalist who practices professional nursing in communities with relatively low populations that are geographically and often culturally isolated. Rural nurses have close ties to and interaction with the communities in which they practice and often practice with a great deal of autonomy and independence. A strong and varied experience base is crucial in rural nursing, as the population that the rural nurse must care for ranges from infants to the elderly. Therefore, a rural nurse must know about every stage of life. Experience with rural communities is a benefit in order to understand the cultural context within which the people live. For most rural nurses, traveling between isolated communities is part of their role. Rural nurses may operate from a clinic or small hospital, while others may base themselves out of a large mobile health center.

Educational requirements

Registered nurse preparation is required.

Core competencies/skills needed

■ Physical assessment and emergency/trauma management skills are vital to the practice for a rural nurse
■ Skilled in all areas of nursing, with clinical and assessment skills that reflect this proficiency
■ Critical-care skills
■ An aptitude for teaching
■ A wide knowledge of resources within the community
■ Management skills
■ Surgical, obstetric, and intravenous therapy skills and the ability to operate and troubleshoot equipment are other useful skills
■ Knowledge about the areas such as pharmaceuticals, the region in which one is practicing, as well as an in-depth awareness of cultural norms and values
■ Ability to adapt to the resources that are available
■ Ability to use innovative and creative solutions to the challenges that exist in locations without major medical centers
■ Ability to practice independently, even without the supplies and equipment available that one needs
■ Value the close interaction they have with the individuals, families, and communities they serve

Related Web site and professional organization

■ Rural Nursing Organization (

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