Supporting Rural nurses: Skills and Knowledge to Practice in Ontario, Canada


  • Jennifer Medves Queen's University Kingston, Ontario
  • Dana S. Edge Queen's University Kingston, Ontario
  • Linda Bisonette Perth & Smiths Falls District Hospital Smiths Fall, Ontario
  • Katherine Stansfield Quinte Health Care Belleville, Ontario



Background: Nursing in rural settings requires the skill set of a multi-specialist who is adaptable to change and different ways of working. Maintaining skills needed for emergency management of complex health issues is difficult, and retention is affected by the paucity of further education opportunities and mentors.                                                                                             

Purpose: In collaboration with five small community hospitals in southern Ontario that experience challenges in recruiting and retaining sufficient nursing staff, this project used critical ethnography to ascertain appropriate retention strategies.

Methods: Data collection included environmental scans, interviews with 45 rural nurses, and completion of 156 surveys from nurses on rural nursing careers. During the project, staff-identified, educational strategies were implemented in 3 of the 5 community hospitals.

Findings: Seven themes emerged from the data. Overall, rural nurses identified that they were content to stay, as long as there was sufficient work.                                                  

Conclusion: Retention interventions that are locally constructed with attention to community factors have the greatest likelihood of succeeding. 

DOI: 10.14574/ojrnhc.v15i1.337  


Keywords:   rural nursing, nurse retention, critical ethnography, retention strategies

Author Biographies

Jennifer Medves, Queen's University Kingston, Ontario

Director School of Nursing and Vice-Dean (Health Sciences)

Dana S. Edge, Queen's University Kingston, Ontario

School of Nursing, Associate Professor

Linda Bisonette, Perth & Smiths Falls District Hospital Smiths Fall, Ontario

 Former President & CEO (retired)


Katherine Stansfield, Quinte Health Care Belleville, Ontario

Vice President and Chief Nursing Officer