Doctors and Primary Care Nurses Join Forces to Strengthen Rural and Remote Healthcare

Media Release

Monday, 21 December, 2020

The Australian College of Rural and Remote Medicine (ACRRM) and the Australian Primary Health Care Nurses Association (APNA) have formalised a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the aim of strengthening healthcare teams across rural and remote Australia.

Signed by ACRRM President Dr Sarah Chalmers and APNA President Karen Booth, the MOU recognises the organisations’ agreement to work together on a range of issues including primary health care reform, and jointly advocate to government and other key stakeholders.

“As peak professional bodies, ACRRM and APNA represent the doctors and nurses who work together to support the primary healthcare needs of rural and remote communities,” ACRRM President Dr Sarah Chalmers says.

“These dedicated health professionals are already doing an extraordinary job, but they need further support.

“We believe greater investment in patient-centred, team-based progressive models of healthcare is essential if we are to provide equitable access to high quality, continuity of care for all rural and remote Australians.”

APNA President Karen Booth says change is needed because rural Australians tend to have higher rates of chronic disease and die younger than their city counterparts.

She says one way to address this is to shake up healthcare funding to enable the skills of every health team member to be fully utilised for the benefit of patients.

 “Together, we recognise that a better future for rural health is predicated on bold, practical workforce solutions,” Ms Booth says, pointing to ACRRM’s internationally recognised model of Rural Generalist training that links junior doctors with practices and communities where they are most needed.

“APNA is keen to work more closely with ACRRM as we seek to create a national placements scheme in primary health care settings for nursing students that includes 3000 funded placements in rural and remote areas.

“Programs such as these not only equip students with broader skillsets but create a next generation pipeline to boost an ageing rural primary care nursing workforce.

“We see this MOU as a great opportunity for ACRRM and APNA to work together to build more effective healthcare teams for the millions of Australians who live in rural and remote areas.”

The Australian Primary Health Care Nurses Association (APNA) is the peak professional body for the 82,000 nurses who work outside the hospital system. This includes nurses in general practice, aged care, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health, schools and other community settings. APNA champions the role of primary health care nurses, provides access to professional education and offers support and networking opportunities. APNA’s vision is a healthy Australia through best practice primary health care nursing.

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The Australian College of Rural and Remote Medicine is the only College in Australia entirely dedicated to training and supporting rural General Practitioners and Rural Generalists to serve rural and remote communities. The College vision is to have the right doctors, in the right places, with the right skills, providing rural and remote people with excellent health care.

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For media enquiries, please contact:

APNA Corporate Affairs Advisor Maria Petrakis on (03) 9322 9504 or email

ACRRM Marketing and Communications Manager Petrina Smith on 0414 820 847 or email

The Australian Primary Health Care Nurses Association acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of country throughout Australia and their connections to land, sea and community. We pay our respects to elders past and present and extend that respect to all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples today.

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