Rural Nursing Preceptorship: An Integrative Review


  • Tracy A Oosterbroek University of Lethbridge
  • Olive Yonge Faculty of Nursing, University of Alberta
  • Florence Myrick University of Alberta



Introduction: Canadians living in rural and remote areas experience lower health outcomes and life expectancy than their urban counterparts. Registered nurses employed in rural and remote areas are often the sole health care provider and are crucial to the delivery of high quality health care. Adequate preparation of future nurses who will work in rural and remote communities is thus essential to ensure access to safe, competent nursing care. Nursing preceptorship is the vehicle through which nursing students become immersed in a particular setting over an extended period of time. The purpose of this literature review is to determine the state of knowledge regarding rural nursing preceptorship.

Methods: An integrative review of the literature was conducted using the SPIDER Tool for analysis of qualitative evidence. From a limited pool of relevant articles, over 40 were retrieved published between 2004 and 2015. Of these, 19 articles met the inclusion criteria and were included in the review and analysis. Each article was evaluated for adherence to the criteria of ethics and rigor using the Research Appraisal Checklist (RAC) tool of appraisal.

Results: Of the 19 articles reviewed, various definitions of rural practice were provided. Standard definitions of rurality and rural practice is currently lacking. Four main themes emerged from the review of the literature around the nature of the rural experience interprofessional collaboration, recruitment and retention of nurses to rural communities and student performance evaluation and feedback.

Conclusions: Preparation of future nurses who are competent and confident to practice in rural settings is crucial. Support and preparation required by faculty advisors and preceptors to ensure successful preceptorship experiences is not clearly understood. Recruitment and retention strategies aimed at the shortage of the nursing workforce in rural settings should highlight the unique nature of rural practice. Future research should focus on the challenges experienced by nursing students that may prevent them from seeking employment in rural communities.

Keywords: rural nursing, preceptorship, rural preceptorship, rurality


Author Biographies

Tracy A Oosterbroek, University of Lethbridge

Nursing Instructor, University of Lethbridge & Doctoral Student, University of Alberta

Olive Yonge, Faculty of Nursing, University of Alberta

RN, PhD., RPsych 

Professor, Vargo Teaching Chair, Faculty of Nursing, University of Alberta, 

Florence Myrick, University of Alberta

RN, PhD 

Professor Emeritus, Faculty of Nursing, University of Alberta