Title : Bachelor studies for nurses organised in rural contexts - A tool for improving the health care services in circumpolar region?
This research article is based on a pilot study of Finnmark University College's off-campus bachelor program (BA) for nurses, organized in rural areas. The objectives were to explore whether these courses had contributed to reduced vacancies; whether the learning outcome of the off-campus courses was the same as the on-campus program, and how the education had influenced the nurses’ professional practice in local health services. In the study we used mixed strategies in data collection and analyses. Data about course completion, average age, average grades and retention effect were collected in 2009/2010 from 3 off-campus classes and their contemporary on-campus classes. Then 7 of the off-campus nurses were interviewed. A content analytical approach to the data was employed. With retention of 93%, the off-campus BA course for nurses has been one of the most effective measures, particularly in rural areas. The employers’ support for further education after graduating seems to be an important factor for the high retention rate. Teaching methods such as learning activities in small local groups influenced the nurses’ professional development. Local training grants, supervision and a local learning environment were important for where they chose their first job after graduation. The study confirms that nurses educated through off-campus courses remain in the county over time after graduating. The “home-grown” nurses are familiar with the local culture and specific needs of the population in this remote area. The study confirms findings in other studies, that further education is an important factor for nurses’ retention.
Audience Take Away:
- Bachelor studies for nurses organized in rural contexts seem to have a central impact for the quality of the health care services in Finnmark County.
- The study confirms our initial assumption that nurses educated through off-campus courses remain in the county over time after graduating.
- The impact of the off-campus study model cannot be judged merely by the numbers retained, but also by their features. The “home-grown” nurses are familiar with the local culture and the specific needs of the population in this remote area, which proves to be of great importance to the quality of the health care services for the patients in rural areas.
- Closer cooperation between university colleges, the trained nurses and local employers should lead to far more students being recruited to the BA in nursing, and not least to ensure that more students take their first jobs within the county.