Characteristics of commuting and non-commuting rural-dwelling nurses in eastern Washington

Geddie Lojas, Gail Oneal


Purpose: The purpose of this study was to explore characteristics of rural-dwelling nurses who may or may not commute for work to an urban area. Rural communities often face a lack of healthcare provider access, including lack of access to registered nurses. With 40% of hospitals and other healthcare facilities located in rural areas, there is a critical need to obtain information about rural nurse workforce issues. Limited research has been conducted on RNs who commute to work in urban areas. To extend this research and provide more information about rural commuting nurses, a pilot study was completed in three rural counties in Washington State.

Methods: A convenience sample of 72 rural-dwelling nurses was recruited through email and mail invitation. Survey data were collected using Qualtrics software. Descriptive statistics were used to determine general characteristics. Chi-square analysis was used to compare respondents who commute to those who do not.

Results: Differences noted between the commuting and non-commuting nurses included non-commuters being more likely to be dissatisfied overall with their primary facility, current base salary, and salary range for their position than commuters. There were no nurses in advanced practice in the non-commuting group.

Conclusions: This pilot study supports the need for further research with larger samples and in more rural counties of eastern Washington to better assess needs and characteristics of both commuting and non-commuting nurses. This information can assist rural healthcare employers to develop and implement the most effective strategies to keep the rural nurse workforce in the community.


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Journal of Nursing Education and Practice

ISSN 1925-4040 (Print)   ISSN 1925-4059 (Online)

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