The implications of isolation for remote industrial health workers
Methods: A phenomenological methodology was chosen for this study owing to the paucity of qualitative literature that explored this role. This study utilised face-to-face or telephone interviews with nurses and paramedics working in remote offshore and onshore industrial health roles seeking to understand their experience of working in this context of health practice.
Results: Three thematically significant experiences of the role related to role dissonance, isolation, and gaining and maintaining skills. The second theme, isolation, will be presented to provide context for nurses' and paramedics' experiences of geographical, personal and professional isolation.
Conclusions: Nurses and paramedics working in remote industrial roles are not prepared for the broad scope of practice of the role, and the physical and profession isolation presents barriers to obtaining skills and confidence necessary to meet the needs of the role. Limited resources in rural and remote areas combined with the isolation of many industrial sites pose challenges for industrial staff in accessing primary healthcare services, yet industrial organisations are resisting attempts to make them responsible for the health as well as the safety of their onsite workers, particularly in off-duty hours. Health workers in remote locations have to cope with their own experience of isolation but also have to treat and counsel other industrial workers experiencing chronic illness complications, separation from family and other consequences of the fly-in, fly-out 'workstyle'. In addition to the tyranny presented by distance and the emotional isolation common to all remote industrial workers, health workers are isolated from professional networks, access to education/professional development opportunities and other remote industrial peers. Their inclusion within a professional network and educational framework would help to mitigate these factors and provides opportunities for collaboration between industrial and rural health staff.
Publication titleRural and Remote Health
Department/SchoolSchool of Nursing
PublisherAustralian Rural Health Education Network
Place of publicationAustralia
Rights statementCopyright 2019 the authors. Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Licence (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/)