Rural provider shortages in primary care can be alleviated by encouraging and supporting nurse practitioners (NPs) to practice in rural clinical sites, which are more likely to employ NPs than urban sites. We surveyed and interviewed NP education program directors, and key staff, including NPs, at rural NP clinical training sites, to identify characteristics of successful clinical training programs that support NPs’ transition from education to rural employment and effective practice. Most programs rated the importance of preparing NPs for rural practice as “very important” to the program’s mission and goals and offered rural clinical placements. Examples of barriers to placing students in rural sites included competition with other NP education programs and other health professional education programs; student difficulty paying for travel and living expenses for rural clinical rotations; and few students willing to travel to a rural site. From interview data, two overarching themes emerged: (1) connectedness, reflecting the main theme of the facilitators for placement of students in rural clinical sites, and (2) competition, reflecting the main theme for the barriers to placements. NP programs designed for flexible attendance, encouraging enrollment of students from rural communities, and overcoming barriers to rural clinical placements can help meet the need for rural primary care workforce development.
Read the full article in The Nurse Practitioner, “NP program efforts promoting transition to rural practice”.