The Benefits of Working as a Rural Nurse

Our small hospital is having a hard time recruiting and retaining nurses, an issue which I really do not understand. My only guess is that many nurses assume that the larger the centre you work in, the happier you’ll be. But that’s not necessarily the case! There are so many great things about working as a Registered Nurse in a rural setting. Let me enlighten you.

#1 You Are On a First-Name Basis With, Well, Everyone You Work With

Imagine this: You walk on the floor you work on, and within minutes you are greeted by the cleaning staff assigned to your floor, the kitchen staff bringing up the patient trays, the physiotherapist, doctors, other nurses and laboratory technicians. They all know you by your first name.

When I delivered our children at the hospital where I worked, I had co-workers from all over the hospital take the time to come in and congratulate us. I received cards, a diaper cake, gifts, food, and well wishes from housekeepers to doctors I work with. Going to work in a rural hospital is not just another job… You are becoming a part of a community.

#2 You Are (At least Partially) Skilled in Many Areas of the Hospital

One of the benefits of working in a small town hospital is that we spend time on more than one floor, without having to transfer. Oftentimes I am called to assist in the Emergency department or ICU, and even Psychiatry all in one shift. On our floor alone we have palliative, med/surg, labour silagra vs caverta & delivery, and postpartum patients. In order for our patient’s to receive the best care possible, our entire hospital has to work together. This means that you will be cross-trained and after a few years you will feel comfortable with multiple different areas of nursing! Now that is something to be proud of.

#3 You Develop Strong Relationships With the Patients in Your Community

When working in a rural hospital you are caring for your neighbours, friends, and family members. There is an increased sense of accomplishment when you successfully resuscitate a patient that you could potentially pass on the street next week, or assist in a delivery of an infant that you will see grow up at follow-up appointments or emergency room visits. Rural centres have a continuity of care that city hospitals couldn’t even dream of.

#4 You Do So Much More of Everything

Unlike larger centres with IV teams, porters, PSWs to perform personal care, security teams, and a NICU (neonatal intensive care centre) team, the nurses that work in rural hospitals do it all. Literally.

The other evening, I removed an interosseous device from a patient’s tibia and then immediately ran back to the labour & delivery ward to successfully resuscitate a newborn.

As a Registered Nurse in a rural hospital, you may find yourself in a charge position on the floor. This title includes assessing bed assignments, calling physicians for updates and orders, ensuring orders are implemented by your team of nurses and giving a detailed report for the incoming shift. It’s a lot of responsibility, especially as a fairly green nurse. At first it may seem intimidating, but the personal growth that you will achieve in such a short amount of time working in a rural hospital will be astounding.

And besides, instead of patient’s care being segmented, you are able to do it all! There is nothing better than that!

#5 You Are a Valued Member of the Interdisciplinary Team

In our hospital, our interdisciplinary team includes dietitians, physiotherapists, physicians, discharge planners, speech language pathologists and of course, nurses. The nurses are the glue that hold patient care together – they do, after all spend the largest amount of time at the bedside. We are on a first-name basis with all of our family doctors and surgeons, and have no need to hesitate before requesting an increase to analgesia if our patient is having pain or to inform them of a recent diagnostic test result. A close relationship with allied health professionals means that nurses can easily advocate for their patients. In rural hospitals, doctor’s know that nurses are present with their patient the other 99% of the time that they are not in hospital, and value the nurse’s opinion and feedback on their patient’s health status.

#6 You Will See Just About Everything Walk Through the Door

Just because rural hospitals are supposed to be low risk, doesn’t mean things always turn out as planned. We as health care professionals have a duty to care for anyone who comes through our doors – at least until we can get them transferred! Our hospital may be small, but it sure is mighty. Our team moves fluidly whether we are assessing  a stroke in ER or rushing for an emergency cesarean in the case of uterine rupture. We get victims of motor vehicle accidents, schizophrenia, and preterm labour. As a nurse in a rural hospital, you can rest assured that you will never be bored.

I hope that this article has opened the reader’s eyes of just how amazing nurses who work in rural hospitals truly are. We have a multifaceted skill set, have unparalleled teamwork skills, are valued members of the interdisciplinary team, and go into work knowing that anything could happen on our shift. We may work in a small town hospital, but we do our job with an incomparable amount of heart and soul.


Hi! I am a Registered Nurse on a unit that encompasses labour and delivery, postpartum, medical, surgical and palliative care in a rural hospital in Ontario, Canada. I am a mom of two and am passionate about women's rights, mom and infant care, parenting and nursing. I hope to create an educational, entertaining and highly relatable resource for women around the world. Thanks for stopping by! Xo, The Mama Nurse

6 thoughts on “The Benefits of Working as a Rural Nurse

  • September 23, 2016 at 11:35 am

    I think of tv shows Hart of Dixie and Good Witch, where they had physicians working in smaller towns after moving from the big Apple. Must be weird to know so much about everyone though.

  • September 23, 2016 at 7:09 pm

    – I too like the first name basis you are privileged to have with everyone. And sharing food/drink/recreational activities/life stories.
    – You’re right: a rural hospital is beyond comparison when it comes to learning a lot, in a broad range of fields/skills. I am NEVER bored. And sometimes scary stuff comes in, but every time you undergo that challenge you come out with more “clinical courage” and that ultimately helps your future patients.
    Continue your important and meaningful work Tori!

  • September 25, 2016 at 3:03 pm

    I have always loved working for smaller companies/organizations, especially when it’s a good group and feels like family! I also love living in a smaller town area and getting to know my medical staff really well. Like when we go to the pediatrician – we see the same nurse every time and we love her! 🙂 <3
    Erin @ Stay at Home Yogi recently posted…Gift Certificate Giveaway for a Baby StrollerMy Profile

  • October 4, 2016 at 2:19 pm

    I grew up in a small rural town, so I totally understand why you’d want to work there. I think it’s so much easier to get “lost” or looked over in a larger facility, and I would love the variety of doing a little of everything and seeing everything.
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  • January 9, 2018 at 10:56 am

    I don’t actually live in a rural area, but I go to a small family practice outside of Boston for my daughter’s care. There are 4 nurses and 2 doctors, and that’s it! The practice is in a converted home, and I love going every time. They are extremely professional, but the nurses all adore my daughter and know her by name even though we’ve only gone a handful of times. It feels so personal in a way that most healthcare these days does not. I love knowing that I’ll see the same faces every time I arrive, and that they’ll be excited to see us. I think many moms are looking for the newest, brightest, most high-tech and highly-rated places (which are all within driving distance of my house), but nothing beats personal contact. If anything, that’s what’s missing about big hospitals.


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