The status of rural nursing in Australia: 12 years on Academic Article uri icon


  • In 1996 Hegney published a seminal review of the literature concerning the status of Australian rural nurses. This article updates and expands that original paper by reporting on an integrative review exploring the same topic area between the years 1996 and 2008. Findings show that definitions of rural nursing are now integrated with those of remote nursing on a continuum of distance and contextual difference. The role and function of rural nurses is examined, along with a discussion of the importance of a primary health care approach in meeting community needs. The influence of social determinants of health is explored in this context. The culture of rural health workplaces in relation to the role and function of rural nurses is also a feature of this review. Research into the rural nursing workforce and, in particular, the recruitment and retention of staff are examined, with the high attrition rate of new or novice rural nurses pinpointed as a common theme in these studies. Important legislative changes that have affected rural nursing practice are also identified. This article concludes with a discussion of the latest research into Australian rural nursing, focusing on education in rural universities and the potential to develop new or novice nurses through the development of supportive relationships.

publication date

  • March 2010