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Policy Polit Nurs Pract. 2011 Feb;12(1):46-54. doi: 10.1177/1527154411411926. Epub 2011 Jul 6.

Commuting to work: RN travel time to employment in rural and urban areas.

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  • 1New York University, New York, NY 10003, USA.



To investigate the variation in average daily travel time to work among registered nurses (RNs) living in urban, suburban, and rural areas. We examine how travel time varies across RN characteristics, job setting, and availability of local employment opportunities.


Descriptive statistics and linear regression using a 5% sample from the 2000 Census and a longitudinal survey of newly licensed RNs (NLRN). Travel time for NLRN respondents was estimated using geographic information systems (GIS) software.


In the NLRN, rural nurses and those living in small towns had significantly longer average commute times. Young married RNs and RNs with children also tended to have longer commute times, as did RNs employed by hospitals.


The findings indicate that travel time to work varies significantly across locale types. Further research is needed to understand whether and to what extent lengthy commute times impact RN workforce needs in rural and urban areas.

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