What Strategies Are Nurse Practitioner Educational Programs Using to Encourage Rural Practice?

Research center:
Lead researcher:
Project funded:
September 2012
Project completed:
May 2014
Problem statement: Persistent shortages of primary care physicians in rural areas have increased the need to educate nurse practitioners (NPs) for rural careers. Medical schools have identified factors associated with rural practice by physicians and used this knowledge to develop rural training programs, but less is known about factors associated with rural NP training and practice, or the extent to which NP programs deploy such strategies.

Project goals: This study will survey all US NP education programs to identify which have recruitment, curricula and other initiatives to promote rural practice and to gather information describing the variety of approaches used. It will also quantify the number of enrolled students in these programs and identify existing data sources that could be used in future studies. Study results may be used as a baseline for future inquiry into why certain NP programs are more successful than others at producing rural-practicing NPs.

Methods: The study will survey all 362 NP education schools, which include 741 NP specialty programs, with questions that will ascertain program location and size and whether they employ any rural-targeted recruitment, distance education, rural practice curriculum, or rural clinical training experiences. It will estimate the proportion and 95% confidence interval of all NP programs that use one or more of the identified approaches to encourage rural NP practice.


  • Support for Rural Recruitment and Practice Among U.S. Nurse Practitioner Education Programs
    Policy Brief
    WWAMI Rural Health Research Center
    Date: 05/2014
    This brief details nurse practitioner (NP) education programs across the United States to identify those actively promoting NP practice in rural areas. It also describes the use of education methods that may promote rural practice and identifies barriers to recruiting rural students and providing rural NP clinical training.