Educational Needs of Rural Nurses when Entering Practice



Purpose: The purpose of this integrative review is to identify the educational needs of rural nurses and the strategies that have been effective in meeting those education needs.

Sample: The literature search yielded 1388 articles to be screened after 930 duplicates were removed. Two researchers screened by title and abstract and full-text review, yielding ten articles. Four were qualitative, four were quantitative and two studies were mixed methods.

Method: An integrative review using Whittemore and Knafl’s method was conducted.  CINAHL, MEDLINE, EMBASE and Scopus databases were searched. Studies about registered nurses' practice from Canada, the United States and Australia were included as these countries are geographically large with rural areas at a distance from larger, urban centres. Inductive content analysis was used to develop themes.

Findings: The themes of educational needs, educational delivery, and barriers to education were developed from data analysis. Educational needs of rural nurses are well established, although multiple barriers impede access to education. Various educational delivery methods have been attempted; it is unclear as to which method is most effective.

Conclusions: Rural nurses must continue to advocate for education opportunities specific to their needs and the demands related to working within the rural context. It’s essential employers and accrediting bodies of hospitals work together to ensure that rural and remote nurses have the essential skills to care for rural and remote populations.

Keywords: rural nursing, educational needs, educational delivery, barriers to education.

Author Biographies

Stephanie Corner, RN, MS NP student, University of Alberta in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

Master's Family All Ages Nurse Practitioner Student

Sherry Dahlke, PhD, RN, GNC(C), University of Alberta

Associate Professor, Faculty of Nursing

Kathleen Hunter, PhD, RN, NP, GNC(C), NCA, University of Alberta

Professor, Faculty of Nursing