We chat with Janelle Baihn about rural, remote nursing and life as a Flight Nurse. Nell shares with us the highs and lows of rural remote nursing, from the desert to the coastline all in one day. f you’ve ever thought of Rural and Remote nursing then this is a great read! Before you read on, go join our exclusive PRIVATE FB Group ‘Rural & Remote Nursing | The Australian Outback‘ to ask questions and network with other like-minded nurses, midwives and students.

Please tell us about your nursing background

Nursing 6 years  – primarily in Emergency, hairdresser and beauty therapist prior to that. Happiest in the ocean or in my swag, nicer with a margarita in hand. Lover of music and avid vinyl collector. Still not sure what I want to do when I grow up (I’m 38, that’s not an adult age!), but I’m enjoying winging it

I quit my permanent Emergency job 12 months ago and went to agency nursing on a whim! Then sent a cheeky email to RFDS recruitment expressing my interest in a position I’d missed out on earlier in 2021, and now I’m a flight nurse in Outback SA.

Why and how you got into R&R?

I did my new grad as part of what was the rural/metro program with NSW Health. 6 months in Gilgandra and then 6 months in Sydney. I was born and raised in the country but after many years of city living and being overseas, I randomly found myself in a familiar country town and it felt like “home”. I then left and did the city thing again, but realised I needed an out in July 2021 and wanted a less exhausting, more rewarding day-to-day. I’d lost the care and compassion for people and nursing and a little stint in TI reminded me of what mattered most and filled my cup so to speak

Where have you worked?

Everywhere! I am a bit of a gypsy. NSW – Gilgandra/Concord/Wyong/Gosford/Tweed QLD – Gold Coast – Weipa – Mapoon – TI and Cairns. Currently with the RFDS in SA as a flight nurse. Did my grad in rural NSW because I wanted to see more and do more, worked my way up the coast from Sydney to GCUH, then floated my way around the Torres and Cape and Cairns before moving to SA.

Any places really stood out? 

Thursday Island is legit my fave place on the planet. The people, and the vibe of the Torres Strait, it’s just a magical place. I love it! It reminded me why I love nursing and put a spring back in my step


The isolation. it’s rough at times, and you just have to be honest with the people that matter most when it’s getting too much. I’m lucky that growing up my parents encouraged me to seek out opportunities and adapt to situations outside of the “norm”.

The best part of remote nursing?

Every day is an adventure – well in my current Flight nurse role. I get to see different parts of Aus, I feel like I make a difference in the lives of our patients. I guess memorable moments – adapting to my ever-changing environment – the other day I cannulated in the front seat of a land cruiser with one leg on the sidestep and the rest of me straddling a patient inside the cab. Regularly collect patients in the back of utes, the kind of stuff you get told about but never think you’ll do

I love the freedom, adventure, diversity and a sense of achievement. My current role allows me to be in the middle of the Outback surrounded by flies and then the next minute, I’m flying over the most pristine coastline. I loved the freedom that agency nursing provided, you’re never “stuck” there’s so much work and opportunity around and it’s always an option to fall back into should a permanent role run its course. Life changes, priorities change and nursing is so adaptable too that. 

Advice for picking an agency/employer?

Ask around, people will tell you who not to go with! – see who is paying what, and what their contract terms are

Advice for a nurse going rural and remote?

  • Just do it.
  • Back yourself – you have the skills.
  • Be kind, not everyone is receptive to new people and skills
  • Have a bucket list
  • Try and learn something new everywhere you go

Just give everything a red hot crack, sometimes this gig can be really isolating, but if you have a bucket list, a thirst for adventure and a support crew on the end of the phone, you’re winning. Send that cheeky email about the job you want, and quit the job you hate, the old cliche of “life’s too short” is true. I debated for so long about taking the leap and once I did I was ridiculously happy.