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Rural nurses' vital role acknowledged.

This year's New Zealand Rural General Practice Network conference, held in Christchurch over four days at the end of March/early April attracted nearly 350 visitors with an interest in rural hearth. Around 90 of them were rural nurses.

The conference theme "Rural health--others talk about it, we do it" reflected the conference's standing as the pre-eminent conference for rural GPs and nurses. It was officially opened by Associate Minister of Health Damien O'Connor. This years conference was the network's largest yet, with nearly four days of clinical workshops, plenary sessions (often with a political focus) and a lively forum in which the issues facing rural health teams were discussed in a supportive environment.

One highlight for rural nurses was an Advancing Rural Nursing Practice day during which there were numerous presentations devoted to the latest research and techniques in rural nursing. White diverse and interesting, a common theme was the vital contribution rural nurses make in the delivery of effective, high quality rural primary health care.

Fox Glacier rural nurse specialist Anne Fitzwater gave a presentation on the effects of tourism on rural nurse practice, a subject that has had very little research to date. Tourism presents rural nurses with many challenges, including having to care for patients from diverse cultural backgrounds and patients with an array of conditions from chronic diseases to sexual health. Fitzwater often deals with the large number of young people who come to work at Fox Glacier, so issues around drugs, alcohol and sexual health are common. Most tourists, she said, were happy to see a nurse, although it depended on what they are used to in their own countries. For example, Americans are used to seeing nurse practitioners. Those demanding to see a doctor soon change their mind when told they will have to travel two and a half hours to see one! Rural BP Ron Janes presented his findings from a survey he has undertaken on the impact of the delivery of 24/7 care in rural areas. His qualitative research, which records numerous personal experiences, outlined the huge burden 24/7 care places on nurses' and doctors' personal and fatuity lives. The work was not adequately paid, he said, and being "on call" had a negative impact on both rural recruitment and retention. Solutions to on-call problems given by those who participated in the survey included a separate contract to be negotiated for providing a 24/7 service and the ability to opt out. Seventeen rural nurses participated in the survey. A copy of Janes' presentation is available on (conference 2006), along with numerous other presentations. Clinical workshops most popular with rural nurses included Sports Injuries and Strapping by GP Deb Robinson from SportsMed, Canterbury; Recognition of the Seriously Ill Child by Christchurch Hospital emergency physician Jan Bone; Sex, Drugs, Rock 'n Roll--Adolescent Health by youth sexual health specialist Sue Bagshaw and Sterilising Techniques by Australian-based sterilisation/infection control consultant Lin Lockhead.

Report by organising committee and network office member Debbie Manigatti
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Title Annotation:SECTION/COLLEGE NEWS; New Zealand Rural General Practice Network conference
Author:Monigatti, Debbie
Publication:Kai Tiaki: Nursing New Zealand
Geographic Code:8NEWZ
Date:May 1, 2006
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