International Nurses Day: nursing students trained for changing face of rural health care

9 MAY 2024

International Nurses Day: nursing students trained for changing face of rural health care

International Nurses Day on Sunday 12 May is a time to celebrate the global impact that nurses have on the health care system. And a Charles Sturt University rural health lecturer said the future of nursing looks bright.

Nurses are among ‘the most trusted profession in Australia’ but some industry professionals said it is still easy to overlook the demands placed on these health care workers.

International Nurses Day is on Sunday 12 May and this year’s theme is ‘Our Nurses. Our Future. The economic power of care’.

Lecturer in Rural Health with Charles Sturt’s Three Rivers Department of Rural Health (DRH) in Wagga Wagga Ms Natalie Ellis (pictured) completed a Bachelor of Nursing at Charles Sturt in 2012, graduating with distinction and a Deans Award.

She has since completed a Graduate Certificate in Clinical Education, a Graduate Certificate in Critical Care (ICU) and is currently completing a Graduate Certificate in Palliative Care, concurrently with a Graduate Certificate in Learning, Teaching in Higher Education all at various Australian universities.

Natalie is a registered nurse who worked in acute care for eight years, surgical, emergency and high dependency, and predominantly in Intensive care, before becoming a clinical nurse educator in a rural multipurpose centre, then in Community Care as the District Educator.

“I know that nurses have always been one of the most trusted professions in Australia and I believe we were recognised as being part of a courageous health system during the pandemic when nurses put themselves at risk to care for others,” she said.

Natalie currently works at Three Rivers DRH with students and professionals from various disciplines. In her work with students, she recently facilitated an interdisciplinary simulation day at Wagga Wagga Base Hospital.

Organisers from Three Rivers DRH, including Natalie, and Murrumbidgee Local Health District will host another training day in Wagga Wagga on Tuesday 14 May for rural nurses.

This workshop is aimed at enhancing microbiology and infection control knowledge for nurses on the frontline response for infection control, specimen collection and treatment delivery.

Natalie said nurses who train and work in rural or remote locations are exposed to a different experience than metropolitan workers.

“It challenges students to make do without all the bells and whistles that some metro hospitals have so that is a good way of developing adaptable clinicians and also critical thinking that is vital for current day clinicians,” she said.

Natalie said nurses have huge impacts on their communities, especially in rural and remote regions. She said people are more likely to ask for help if they know and trust those who are providing it.

Three Rivers DRH and Charles Sturt’s Bachelor of Nursing is preparing the next generation of nurses and health care providers by showing students what it is like to work in a rural setting.

“We need work-ready graduates, to ensure they are prepared for a range of settings, as there is a huge and growing need for registered nurses, especially in the aged care and disability sectors,” Natalie said.

“It used to be, and still is to a degree, seen as ‘sexy’ to be working in Emergency or Intensive Care but having worked in community care, we have so many of the same skills being used to keep people at home in their own environment.”

“I believe that primary or community care is an area that will grow in the next 10 to 15 years, like we have seen the disability sector grow in the last 10 years.”

Natalie said recognising International Nurses Day is a chance to acknowledge the contributions and patient care provided by nurses that impacts people globally.

Nurses and midwives play a pivotal role in patient wellbeing, said Natalie, and nurses are also key advocates for patient-centred care and educating patients, their families and caregivers in a multitude of settings.

“International Nurses Day highlights the need for adequate resources, staffing and support systems to ensure that nurses can perform their jobs effectively and safely.

“It provides the perfect opportunity for individuals, communities and countries to express their gratitude for the tireless efforts of nurses in promoting health and healing.”

Natalie said from a university perspective, celebrating International Nurses Day is important for the development of the nursing profession that Charles Sturt is helping to grow by educating nursing students.

“Charles Sturt University, through its course material, will help shape our future workforce,” she said.

“And it’s important to understand how to help  advocate for the skills and resources nurses need, from novices to experienced clinicians.”

“The University is also a base for research into the nursing profession, impacting future research and clinical practice.”

Media Note:

To arrange interviews with Ms Natalie Ellis, contact Nicole Barlow at Charles Sturt Media on mobile 0429 217 026 or

Three Rivers Department of Rural Health (DRH) aims to improve the recruitment and retention of nursing, midwifery, allied health and dentistry professionals in rural and remote Australia. It is led, administered and operated by Charles Sturt University in a consortium partnership with The University of Notre Dame, the University of New South Wales and Western Sydney University. Three Rivers DRH is supported by funding from the Australian Government under the Rural Health Multidisciplinary Training program.

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Wagga Wagga Charles Sturt University Three Rivers