"You're always the Nurse'': A Qualitative Study of the Perceptions of Australian Remote Area Nurses about why they Stay or Leave .!


The aim of this study was to examine the experiences of currently employed and experienced Australian Remote Area Nurses about remote nursing staff retention strategies. This is a qualitative study using in-depth interviews with seven registered nurses with a minimum of 3 years remote area nursing experience. Participants were interviewed by phone, with the interviews audio-recorded then transcribed. Two of the authors independently analysed the transcriptions to identify common themes, then discussed the data until a consensus was reached. Results: Participants had on average 12 years’ experience as a Remote Area Nurse. They particularly valued teamwork and a strong team focus, effective and flexible management practices and the ability to maintain their own cultural and social connectedness. A flexible service model with regular short breaks, filled by returning agency nurses to enable continuity of care and cultural connections, was seen as a viable approach. Flexible management practices that encourage short breaks for Remote Area Nurses may increase retention. This would need to occur within a supportive management framework that prioritised staff teamwork and continuity of care.