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NHS Education for Scotland

A skilled and sustainable workforce for a healthier Scotland

New Multidisciplinary education pathway supports rural advanced practice

New Multidisciplinary education pathway supports rural advanced practice

New Multidisciplinary education pathway supports rural advanced practice

NHS Education for Scotland (NES) and the Scottish Rural Medicine Collaborative (SRMC) and have developed a new education pathway. The Rural Advanced Practice (RAP) pathway identifies the knowledge and skills to become a Rural Advanced Practitioner. It illustrates how multidisciplinary team members can progress their careers in rural areas through education that meets the needs of the remote and rural health and social care workforce.

The pathway builds on the requirements for advanced practice for nurses, midwives and allied health professionals. A two-year collaborative programme of research and stakeholder consultations have informed the new pathway.

Pam Nicoll, Programme Director, Remote and Rural Healthcare Educational Alliance (RRHEAL), NES, said:

“Rural Advanced Practitioners (APs)are extended generalists. They work independently and collaboratively to promote health and wellbeing and contribute to addressing inequality in health. They work as part of the multi-professional and multidisciplinary team of colleagues, both local and distant, to provide services that are aligned and responsive to community needs. The design of the Education Pathway supports Rural APs to provide services across the age spectrum in the Remote & Rural community, GP Practices and out-of-hours settings.”

Charlie Siderfin, Clinical Lead SRMC, on joint working added:

“The role of the Rural Advanced Practitioner is extremely broad and is often undertaken in relative isolation. This joint piece of work between NES and SRMC is an important step in delineating the breadth of the role, the education requirements and mechanisms of support required to ensure that our Rural APs thrive, as they deliver holistic care to our rural communities.”

The ambition of the RAP pathway is education that supports social accountability1. Education providers have an obligation to direct their education, research and service activities towards addressing the priority health concerns of the community, region, and/or nation they have a mandate to serve. The education should prepare the practitioner to be able to fulfil the requirements and expectations of such a level of practice. It does not, however, grant the practitioner Rural Advanced Practitioner ‘status’.

A capability and competence framework and an educational needs assessment document accompany the pathway. They will guide higher education institutions and other education providers to deliver education that is consistent and applicable to rural practice. They will also support the efforts of remote, rural and island boards to attract, recruit and retain health and social care professionals.

It is anticipated that educational delivery of the new pathway will begin in January 2022.

For more information email

2Over 930,000 people in Scotland out of a population of 5.46 million live in rural areas. The report 3’Delivering for remote and rural healthcare (2008)’ recognises the differences between remote and rural communities, with life on Scotland’s islands providing challenges. Patients may have to travel long distances to reach the services they need. Recruiting and retaining the right kind of health and social care professionals can be more difficult than in major towns and cities. Specific remote and rural education is needed.

Rural Advanced Practitioners need to be able to provide primary health care in remote and rural settings and support access to health and social care services. They work with statutory, private and voluntary agencies to help build community resilience, prevent disease, alleviate health inequalities and improve health outcomes. They have enhanced decision-making skills to provide safe, effective, and person-centred care, often in isolation from other healthcare professionals.

2 Rural Scotland Key Facts 2021
3 Delivering for Remote and Rural Healthcare: The Final Report of the Remote and Rural Workstream (2008)


May, 26 2021