Laurentian Researcher Takes Part in National Study of Rural Nurses


March 9, 2005

The nature of rural nursing

Laurentian researcher takes part in national study of rural nurses

Dr. Roger Pitblado, a geography professor at Laurentian University, is taking part in a unique national study of rural nurses. Among the key findings uncovered in this project, entitled The Nature of Nursing Practice in Rural and Remote Canada, is the one indicating that the number of rural nurses has been declining and that their work experiences are very different than their counterparts in urban centres.

In The Nature of Nursing Practice in Rural and Remote Canada, researchers conducted a first-ever survey of nearly 4,000 rural nurses, conducted detailed interviews with 152 rural nurses, reviewed more than 200 documents that relate to rural nursing practice, and analysed the national database of registered nurses. Between 1994 and 2002, the number of rural nurses declined by 1,655 - a drop of 3.9%. Over the same period, the average age of rural nurses increased from 40.6 to nearly 43 years. Currently in Canada's urban centres, there are about 78 nurses per 10,000 people. In rural areas, there are only 62 nurses per 10,000 rural residents.

"In addition to quantifying the decline in the number of rural nurses, we wanted to get a comprehensive view of what rural nursing is really like. This has never been done in Canada before," says Dr. Roger Pitblado, a Laurentian University geography professor. "The survey and interviews we conducted have shown that rural nurses have greater responsibility and generally fewer technical and human resources to support them. The details of our study have implications for health policy, rural nurse education, and for community efforts to recruit and retain nurses."

The research project was led by faculty at Laurentian University, the University of Northern British Columbia, the University of Lethbridge, and the University of Saskatchewan. Other researchers and advisors participated from all parts of Canada. The primary funding for the research came from the Canadian Health Services Research Foundation but the list of funding partners includes representation from every province and territory.

For more information, please call Dr. Roger Pitblado, geography professor at Laurentian University, at (705) 675-1151, ext. 3355 or pitblado@laurentian.ca.

Additional Links

The Nature of Nursing Practice in Rural and Remote Canada: http://ruralnursing.unbc.ca/
Canadian Journal of Nursing Research: http://www.mcgill.ca/cjnr/