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Want to work remote this year? A new certification process will support new-to-remote nurses and midwives heading off the beaten track.

A pioneering initiative aims to set a new benchmark for nurses and midwives aspiring to remote and isolated practice in Australia.

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CRANAplus, the peak professional body for the remote health workforce, is developing a certification process designed to set a minimum standard for nurses and midwives interested in pursuing a career working remote.

CRANAplus CEO Christopher Cliffe says the RAN Certification Project will provide a framework for practitioners to demonstrate their practice against the nine professional standards, which serve as the foundation of remote practice.

Mr Cliffe says the standards and the certification process are designed to produce more reliable, consistent, high quality and accessible health care, delivered by suitably skilled, experienced and recognised remote area nurses (RANs).


“Where we carry our biggest risk and where we struggle the most is with new people coming through - it’s a very hard industry. Because it’s quite isolated, there’s not a great deal of supervision and support out there,” he says.

“It’s very hard to know whether you’re doing a good job, a great job or a bad job when there’s no-one else around to work with you.

“No-one else is responsible for the standard of care that you provide except yourself, and we would like to see that this is an easy way, and a standardised way, for people to be able to benchmark themselves against the professional standards and the broader industry.

“We are working in an extended, an expanded scope, out in remote areas so I think this is a good, safe professional way of assessing to make sure that you are a safe practitioner, and that is the responsibility of each health care professional.”

The voluntary certification process will enable nurses and midwives to log in to an online portal, expected to be launched on the CRANAplus website early this year, where they can self-assess against the nine professional standards of remote practice.

The standards cover areas such as - registration, endorsement or eligibility for practice; health, wellbeing and resilience; culturally respectful practice; practices within a comprehensive primary heath care model of service delivery; works within care pathways and develops networks of collaborative practice; clinical knowledge and skills to safely undertake the role; recent clinical practice in a remote and isolated location; an ongoing commitment to education relevant to remote practice; and practices within a safety and quality framework.

Under the initiative, nurses and midwives will be certified for a timeframe of three years. After that, they can continue to update their certification through the online portal.

Mr Cliffe says the certification process will also assist nurses and midwives working towards gaining the experience and qualifications required to achieve their RAN certification.

“It takes a lot of time and money and energy to gather the qualifications, to gather the experience that’s required and we don’t want to exclude those people, so if they start this process and they find they’re not quite there yet, what happens is they get a provisional certification,” he says.

“With that provisional certification is a work plan that’s automated and our professional officers will work with these individuals to help them develop their education plan, their professional development plan - about what they need to be doing over the next six to 12 months to get up to speed so that they can get their full certification.”

RAN certification aims to not only set a minimum standard for remote and isolated practice but also works to identify RANs to their patients, colleagues and employers.

Mr Cliffe says the initiative, developed by the workforce for the workforce, has received strong support from within the health sector.

“Employers so far seem very keen on this because it’s a way of making sure there’s a minimum standard in regards to the preparation of the workforce but also the clinical standards in regards to the care that they’re providing,” he says.

“The other big thing that seems to be coming back as feedback from the industry is that it also defines - what is a remote area nurse.

“You’ve got a ticket to say - yes, I’ve met the minimum standard and that gives some great flexibility to be able to work across states, across jurisdictions, and removes some of this jurisdictional duplication.

“A lot of the feedback is - why didn’t we do this before?”

CRANAplus is working with a group of remote and isolated area nurses to test the assessment criteria of the nine professional standards to assist with the development of the online portal ahead of its launch.

Mr Cliffe says the RAN certification initiative will bolster the remote and isolated nursing and midwifery professions.

“I think it’s a really exciting thing for us to be doing,” he says.

“We’re not saying remote area nurses should do it but we’re giving them a platform to be able to affordably and efficiently prove to themselves and prove to others that they meet the minimum standards.”


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Karen Keast

Karen Keast is a freelance health journalist who writes news and feature articles for HealthTimes.

Karen regularly writes for some of Australia’s leading health news websites and magazines.  In a media career spanning 20 years, Karen has worked as a senior journalist in newspapers and television. She has covered the grind of daily news and worked as a politics reporter at countless state and federal elections.

Since venturing into freelance writing five years ago, Karen has found her niche in writing about the health sector for editors, businesses and corporations.

Karen has interviewed the heads of peak health organisations in Australia and overseas, and written hundreds of news and feature articles covering the dedicated work of health professionals who tread the corridors of hospitals and health services, universities, aged care facilities and practices, day in and day out.

Follow Karen Keast on Twitter @stylemywords