How do we train, support and retain resilient nurses in underserved areas?

October 2016

Nurses face a multitude of stressors in their day-to-day work including heavy workloads, time pressures and managing relations with other health professions. In underserved areas, such as rural locations, these stressors are exacerbated by staff shortages and adverse working environments, for example a lack of basic utilities and poor infrastructure. Despite these conditions, many nurses display resilience: they remain committed to working in their organisation and show a motivation to work. Nurses also use individual agency to improve the delivery of health services.  

Since 2008, RESYST Consortium has tracked a cohort of 377 nursing graduates from Gauteng (urban) and North West (rural) Provinces in South Africa. The research aimed to analyse the mobility patterns of cohort members’ with regard to where they work, when they move, where they move to and the reasons for the decisions.

This sheet presents the following key findings:

  1. There is evidence of nursing resilience in the cohort study; resilient nurses stay in public sector and rural areas, despite adverse working conditions 
  2. Resilience is promoted by personal values, supportive supervision, job flexibility and enrichment
  3. Nurses who are born in rural areas and who are trained in rural areas, are more likely to work in rural areas
Health workforce Nurses job choices