WITHOUT a visiting medical officer (VMO) at their hospital, the nurses at Bulahdelah have had to step up their role in order to keep the hospital in operation.
With May 12 marking International Nurses Day it is an ideal time to pay tribute to this group of dedicated women.
"Even though we haven't got a permanent doctor we can still provide community services here," registered nurse at the hospital Kerry Turnbull said.
"Since we haven't had a VMO our potential for an extended role has been realised," she said.
Ms Turnbull said most of the nurses there now had training in how to commence first-line emergency treatments.
"For example we can put in cannulas, start IVs and stabilise patients," she said.
Providing services for the community throughout the day and evenings while no doctor is available helps reduce the strain on those seeking treatment.
New mother Roxanne Richardson said having the nurses around meant she did not have to travel out of town to have her premature baby girl, Jaida regularly weighed in.
"It saves me going to Taree or back to John Hunter Hospital where she was born," she said.
The town has had no full-time GP since doctor Adel Habashy took sick leave almost nine months ago and he is yet to indicate when he will return.
A GP is now available two days a week and will be available to see patients on Monday and Tuesday between 9am and 5pm and a GP from Nabiac has stepped in on Saturdays.