About Us


Between 2001 and 2004, the Nature of Nursing Practice in Rural and Remote Canada study was undertaken to examine and articulate the nature of registered nursing practice in rural and remote practice settings across the country. The project was led by four researchers (Drs. Martha MacLeod, Judith Kulig, Norma Stewart and Roger Pitblado), with a Research Team of 13 co-researchers and an Advisory Team of 24 decision-makers from all provinces and territories. The 2001-04 national study identified barriers to continuing education and helped in the creation of tailored education programs for rural/remote nurses in Nova Scotia and British Columbia. The dozens of articles, reports and presentations that came out of this first national study continue to inform policy and research.

A decade after the initiation of the research, it is evident that knowledge gaps are emerging. Health human resource (HHR) planning and the accessibility, quality and sustainability of rural health care continue to be of concern nationally and provincially. This study will:

  • Include all four types of nurses
  • Provide a better understanding of the complexity of rural/remote nursing practice, especially with respect to primary health care
  • Address significant gaps in our understanding about the  personal, professional and community factors that are involved in recruiting  and retaining LPNs, RNs, RPNs, and NPs in rural and remote communities
  • Reflect national and provincial/territorial needs

Current Research Activities

There are four major research activities planned for the four year period (2012 -2016) during which Nursing Practice in Rural and Remote Canada II study is being implemented:

  1. An analysis of the Canadian Institute for Health Information’s 2010 Nursing Database (NDB) data
  2. An analyis of policy documents
  3. A national survey of nurses in rural and remote areas across Canada
  4. The production and distribution of knowledge translation materials that report the study’s findings

The NDB analysis and policy document analysis will be completed in the first year. The policy document analysis will update the analysis completed during the first study, which provided a comprehensive compilation of over 130 published and grey literature documents relevant to rural nursing.  Development and piloting of the survey will also be completed in the first year, in preparation for its implementation.

During the second year, the survey will be mailed out to nurses (including Licenced Practical Nurses, Registered Nurses, Registered Psychiatric Nurses and Nurse Practitioners) working in rural and remote areas in all Canadian provinces and territories. Nurses will be able to complete the survey and return it by mail, or, they can choose to complete the survey online.

Analyses of the survey data, as well as the production and distribution of knowledge translation materials, such as articles, reports, factsheets and presentations, will take place over the third and fourth year of the Project.


Co-principal investigators:

  • Martha MacLeod (University of Northern British Columbia)
  • Norma Stewart (University of Saskatchewan)
  • Judith Kulig (University of Lethbridge)
  • Roger Pitblado (Laurentian University) (2012-13)


  • Mary Ellen Andrews (University of Saskatchewan)
  • Davina Banner (University of Northern British Columbia)
  • Neil Hanlon (University of Northern British Columbia)
  • Chandima Karunanayake (University of Saskatchewan)
  • Kelley Kilpatrick (Hôpital Maisonneuve Rosemont Research Center)
  • Irene Koren (Laurentian University)
  • Julie Kosteniuk (University of Saskatchewan)
  • Ruth Martin-Misener (Dalhousie University)
  • Pertice Moffitt (Aurora College)
  • Kelly Penz (University of Saskatchewan)
  • Linda Van Pelt (University of Northern British Columbia)
  • Erin Wilson (University of Northern British Columbia)
  • Lela Zimmer (University of Northern British Columbia)

The success of this national study relies on an Advisory Team that works with the researchers throughout the Project to refine the focus of the survey, facilitate access to the survey sample, determine lines of analyses, and to direct the translation of the knowledge created through the study.

The Advisory Team includes members from provincial and territorial nursing regulatory bodies (colleges) and nursing associations, health authorities, federal healthcare providers, and national organizations, including Aboriginal nursing organizations. The Chair of the Advisory Team is Suzanne Johnston, CNO, Northern Health.