A Blended Program for Remote and Rural Generalist Clinicians

The 2018 Australian Rural & Remote Mental Health Symposium will be held next month over 15-17 October at the Hotel Grand Chancellor, Hobart, Tasmania.

Joining us at the conference is Ms Amanda North, Remote Clinical Educator Mental Health at CRANAplus who will present on MHE: A Blended Program for Remote and Rural Generalist Clinicians’.


It is well recognised that with increased remoteness the availability of mental health professionals decreases (AIHW 2015) and therefore it is often generalist health practitioners that provide mental health care, particularly for urgent presentations. We know that nurses consistently identify they do not have the skills or knowledge to identify, assess and treat people presenting with mental health concerns (Clark, Parker and Gould 2005 pp.210-211).

This presentation will outline the design and delivery of a new Mental Health Emergencies (MHE) course, which aims to improve generalist practitioners’ mental health assessment and management skills specifically within the remote, isolated and rural context.

Several issues can prevent practitioners from accessing high quality and hands-on upskilling. These include: travel, accommodation, course costs and difficulty getting released. These challenges are compounded by learning barriers including: poor internet connectivity, low digital literacy, limited time for study, courses that are content heavy and limited access to industry expertise and practice opportunities.

The presentation will demonstrate how the MHE course:
1. Provides a simple, easy to remember framework to guide clinical practice. We have called this the 5x O.
2. Aligns with clinical practice guidelines (such as CARPA and PCCM).
3. Creates visually scaffolded content for online scanning.
4. Uses scenario based and critical reflection approaches to promote deeper learning that is transferable.
5. Provides practice and coaching/mentoring by industry expert/s.
6. Provides multiple delivery methodologies e.g. blended (online plus face-face workshop), fully online i.e. with virtual workshop, access to content online or USB.
7. Promotes networking and support between practitioners.

Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW). 2015. Mental Health Workforce. https://www.aihw.gov.au/getmedia/39ef59a4-4bb3-4f90-b117-29972245ca95/Mental-health-workforce-2015.pdf.aspx. Accessed March 2018.

Clark, C., Parker, E. & Gould, T. 2005. Rural generalist nurses’ perceptions of the effectiveness of their therapeutic interventions for patients with mental illness. Australian Journal of Rural Health. 13: 205-213

Key Learnings:
1. The key role of generalist health clinicians in the provision of mental health care in remote, isolated and rural settings and the importance of an education program contextualised to this setting.
2. 5x O as an approach for generalist rural and remote clinicians to conduct an assessment and care plan for a person presenting with mental health needs.
3. The provision of a blended training program to address the learning needs of participants from rural and remote locations.


Amanda currently works as a remote clinical educator with CRANAplus and has a passion for rural and remote health. Amanda has a Masters of Nursing (Mental Health) and has worked across a wide range of clinical areas including acute inpatient nursing, community case management and correctional centres in both metropolitan and rural settings.

For more information on the upcoming 2018 Australian Rural & Remote Mental Health Symposium please visit anzmh.asn.au/rrmh

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