Factors Promoting Rural Nursing Recruitment & Retention

Document Type


Publication Date

April 2010

Faculty Sponsor

Dr. Jeri Bigbee & Molly Prengaman


Purpose/Aims: The purpose of this literature review was to identify key factors that promote nursing recruitment and retention efforts in rural and remote areas. Background: Chronic nursing shortages have plagued rural communities for generations, due to competition and challenges to recruiting and retaining rural nurses. Previous quantitative and qualitative research has identified a variety of factors that may influence effective rural nursing recruitment and retention. Methods: A comprehensive literature review of 16 articles published between 2002 and 2008 was conducted in order to highlight, examine and evaluate studies that identify key factors that influence rural nursing shortages and recruitment efforts. Databases including CINAHL, PubMed, and Google Scholar were utilized. Results: The literature review revealed common themes and key rural recruitment and retention factors. Nursing practice in rural areas requires nurses to be critical thinkers, versatile, and capable of handling complex situations. Some nurses are attracted to this practice setting, but to others these requirements may be overwhelming and intimidating. Mentoring, preceptor programs, and a positive clinical experience are the most common strategies identified in the literature to address the recruitment and retention of rural nurses (cited in 25% of the articles reviewed). Experienced nurses who take on active mentoring roles are essential in creating supportive environments that nurture nurses new to the rural clinical environment. Additional key rural recruitment and retention factors include a supportive work environment (18.75%), access to and promotion of continuing education (12.5%), flexible work schedules (6.25%), supportive management (6.25%), transformational leadership (6.25%), career planning (6.25%), and spousal support (6.25%). Implications: These literature review findings suggest that preceptor programs, a positive clinical experience, and mentoring play significant roles in recruiting and maintaining nursing staff. Future research is needed to identify the most effective strategies for recruiting and retaining nurses in rural and remote communities. These strategies need to focus on creating and maintaining a positive working environment for rural nurses. Funding provided by the Office of External Funding, College of Health Sciences, Boise State University.

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