Mentorship in Rural Healthcare Organizations: Challenges and Opportunities


Introduction: Recruitment to and retention of healthcare professionals in rural workplaces are often difficult due to inadequate resources, limited positions, and facility remoteness. Mentorship of employees can serve as a recruitment and retention strategy in rural organizations.

Purpose: The purpose of this study was to explore managers’ perceptions of their roles in creating mentoring cultures, discover the processes in creating a culture of mentoring, and explore the organizational features supporting and inhibiting mentoring cultures. The objectives included: (a) exploring managers’ perceptions of their role in creating a mentoring culture, (b) discovering the processes of creating a culture of mentoring, and (c) exploring the organizational features supporting and inhibiting this process of developing a mentoring culture. The rural-specific findings from the larger study will be discussed.

Sample: Twenty-seven front-line nurse managers working in acute care hospitals, long term care, and integrated facilities from both urban and rural locations were interviewed. Twelve participants managed rural facilities and their opinions surrounding rural mentorship strategies and challenges emerged.

Method: Data was analyzed using Glaserian Grounded Theory.

Findings: Nurse managers discussed the impact of being in a rural area and highlighted the rural-specific considerations for mentoring. They outlined the strategies, challenges, and opportunities for supporting staff mentoring relationships in rural organizations. Participants stated all employees were responsible for mentoring new individuals, regardless of occupation. Managers believed cross-professional mentoring enabled staff to understand team member roles and established collaborative work environments.

Conclusions: In order to successfully recruit and retain healthcare employees in rural areas, innovative mentorship initiatives to ensure quality work environments are encouraged. Interprofessional mentorship can assist with the challenges of socializing new employees to rural workplaces by offering a means to encourage collaborative relationships and ultimately foster positive patient outcomes.

Key Words: Mentorship, Rural Organizations, Interprofessional, Healthcare

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