Rural Nurses: Lifestyle Preferences and Education Perceptions


Background: The recruitment and retention of rural nurses is often complex, costly and difficult. Administrators report new graduates are often unprepared for the role and little is known about their perceptions of lifestyle and education preparedness. There is also insufficient information about why nurses choose rural generalist roles.
Purpose: The study investigated relationships among lifestyle preferences, perceptions of educational preparedness for the rural generalist role, and the intent to move.
Methods: Participants in a rural nurse residency answered online survey questions requiring both qualitative and quantitative responses. The study employed a descriptive, correlation design.
Results: The sample (n = 106) consisted of both novice and expert rural nurses from 22 states. “Proximity” was given as the main reason for choosing the rural generalist role. Most participants rated their education as ineffective. A significant 11% intended to move. One hundred percent of those with intent to move worked fewer than 12 months. Preference for the rural lifestyle and a particular community influenced the choice for the first employment position rather than a desire for the rural generalist role. Perceptions of preparedness influenced the intent to move.
Conclusion: Findings suggest community-based strategies highlighting recreation, climate, cultural opportunities, and relationships can improve nurse recruitment and retention. Academic and professional development education are proposed for rural nurse preparedness.

Keywords: Rural Nurse, Recruitment, Retention, Administration, Education

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