Nursings students’ attitudes towards rural nursing practice
Background: Nursing shortage is a worldwide phenomenon; in rural areas, this shortage is exacerbated by geographical imbalances. Reducing the inequality of health outcomes between rural and urban areas requires improvement in the rural nursing workforce. Thus far, little research has been conducted on the recruitment of nursing students to rural nursing in China. Aim: This study aimed to explore nursing students’ perspectives of rural nursing practice and their intentions to work rurally after graduation, and to identify factors contributing to those intentions. Methods: Exploratory interviews were conducted with eleven nursing students to obtain their perspectives of rural nursing practice. This was followed by a hand distributed and collected self-completion questionnaire survey that involved 445 final year nursing students in six nursing schools in one province in China. The questionnaire measured students’ rural career intentions and their perceptions of rural nursing practice. The survey data were collected between December 2011 and March 2012. The response rate for the questionnaire survey was 89%. Results: The results indicated that the majority of final year nursing students did not intend to work rurally. The most frequently cited barriers deterring them from considering a rural job were the perceived fewer opportunities for skills development and learning, potentially lower financial rewards, and family members’ disapproval of rural working. Regression analysis showed that the length of time living rurally and educational level were the most important predictors of nursing students’ intentions to take a rural job immediately following graduation. The logistic regression illustrated that rural identification, degree, and rural placement experiences were significant predictors for nursing students’ intentions to work rurally in their future nursing career. Conclusion: Nursing students with high intentions to work rurally were rare in China. Rural background had a positive impact on students’ intentions to work rurally. Students with a degree were less likely to work rurally.