Background: Rural health services in Australia are continually challenged by both the recruitment and retention of the nursing workforce. The aim of the study was to examine what nursing students consider the most important factors for undertaking a rural career in Australia.
Methods: Nursing students (n=1,982) studying a three-year bachelor’s degree at an Australian University were invited to complete an online survey that examined their rural practice intentions. The questionnaire included demographic, rural background and career intentions, and a modified Nursing Community Apgar Questionnaire (NCAQ).
Results: The factors identified most important among nursing students when considering rural practice include patient safety and high-quality care, having autonomy and respect from management, the establishment of positive relationships and good communication between different generations of nurses, and the work environment providing job satisfaction with good morale.
Conclusions: This study provided insight for rural and regional universities and health services to better demonstrate what students indicate is important to take up rural practice, while highlighting unique challenges for the rural nursing workforce. Key elements are proposed that may be augmented at the university and health service level to guide recruitment and possibly retention. Rural recruitment and retention of new graduate nurses may be better achieved by addressing what nursing students feel are most important to them when considering rural practice, which are focused around management, decision-making, and practice environment factors rather than economic or community-based factors. The greatest importance to students is the ‘fit between’ them and the agency and much less about their ‘fit with’ the community into which they will be entering
Authors who publish with this journal agree to the following terms:
- Authors retain copyright and grant the journal right of first publication with the work simultaneously licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution License that allows others to share (for non-commerical purposes) the work with an acknowledgement of the work's authorship and initial publication in this journal.
- Authors are able to enter into separate, additional contractual arrangements for the non-exclusive distribution of the journal's published version of the work (e.g., post it to an institutional repository or publish it in a book), with an acknowledgement of its initial publication in this journal.
- Authors are permitted and encouraged to post their work online (e.g., in institutional repositories or on their website) prior to and during the submission process, as it can lead to productive exchanges, as well as earlier and greater citation of published work (See The Effect of Open Access).