AIM: This paper reports the findings of a study exploring the reasons why rural Enrolled Nurses have chosen to convert to level 1 of the nursing register. BACKGROUND: Whilst the Project 2000: A New Preparation for Practice report resulted in the cessation of second level or Enrolled Nurse training in the United Kingdom, Australia has continued to educate enrolled nurses. Currently Australia is facing critical shortages of level 1 nurses and nowhere is this more acute than in rural areas. There are indications that there are large numbers of rural Enrolled Nurses who are interested in 'converting' from level 2 to level 1 of the nursing register. METHOD: Using a computer program that facilitates engagement and interaction, an 'online' focus group was conducted with 38 Enrolled Nurses undertaking a conversion programme at a rural university in Victoria, Australia. During a period of 2 months the Enrolled Nurses participated in a discussion focusing on their reasons for undertaking a conversion programme. Their responses were categorized into five interrelated broad themes. FINDINGS: These Enrolled Nurses suggested that disillusionment with their role and role ambiguity were the primary reasons for their decision to undertake a conversion programme. All participants suggested that their scope of practice as an Enrolled Nurse is significantly broadened in rural areas. They argued that, following conversion, they are in an ideal position to manage the diversity of rural nursing practice. CONCLUSIONS: In Australia, Enrolled Nurse conversion has the potential to ease some of the workforce shortages, particularly in rural areas. By supporting Enrolled Nurses to undertake conversion programmes, rural areas may benefit from having nurses with the knowledge and skills to deal with the rural environment.