Journal article

'I think it is the best job ... I love it!' Engendering workplace satisfaction in rural and remote Australian mental health nursing

Government Health Social services Labour force Social change Australia New South Wales

Mental health nursing in New South Wales, Australia has experienced considerable change as a profession over the past 20 years. In a climate of reduced funding and heightened service need, rural and remote geographies continue to affect workplace environments and experiences. This article presents qualitative focus group data to identify what workplace strategies and experiences mental health nurses working in rural and remote communities used in their day-to-day practices. Findings demonstrate socially patterned working conditions and experiences consistent with national and international research outcomes, specifically that emotional and physical resilience is required to survive and thrive as a mental health professional. Specific workplace experiences reveal three key themes (workplace culture; professional pride; rewards, people and places) which characterise participants' perceptions and overall work satisfaction. Examples from each of these themes are presented to illustrate what contributed or detracted from individual mental health nurses' overall perception of their workplaces, and particularly such positive feelings as, 'I love my job'. From consideration of these experiences, greater insight into the profession may be gained that fosters policies and practices to address ongoing issues of low retention and high turnover rates.

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