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J Rural Health. 2006 Spring;22(2):151-7.

Characteristics of registered nurses in rural versus urban areas: implications for strategies to alleviate nursing shortages in the United States.

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  • 1Center for Health Workforce Studies, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington 98105-4982, USA.



This study compares characteristics of rural and urban registered nurses (RNs) in the United States using data from the 2000 National Sample Survey of Registered Nurses. RNs in 3 types of rural areas are examined using the rural-urban commuting area taxonomy.


Rural and urban RNs are similar in age and sex; nonwhites and Hispanics are underrepresented in both groups. Rural RNs have less nursing education, are less likely to work in hospitals, and are more likely to work full time and in public/community health than urban RNs. The more rural an RN's residence, the more likely he/she commutes to another area for work and the lower salary he/she receives.


Strategies to reduce nurse shortages should consider differences in education, work patterns, and commuting behavior among rural and urban RNs. Solutions for rural areas require understanding of the impact of the workplace on these behaviors.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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