LU investigators share in $400K research award CRaNHR work part of national study on rural and remote nursing care

March 28, 2012 - Two investigators from the Centre for Rural and Northern Health Research (CRaNHR) at Laurentian University will help to advance a national project aimed at improving the quality of nursing service provided in remote and rural regions of Canada.

Health Canada this month announced a new grant of $400,000  to support the first 13 months of the three-year project, The Nature of Nursing Practice in Rural and Remote Canada II.

Dr. Roger Pitblado, Professor Emeritus and Senior Research

Fellow at CRaNHR, is a co-principal investigator in the project, while Laurentian University School of Nursing Assistant Professor Irene Koren is a co-investigator.  The research project is led by the University of Northern British Columbia and includes investigators from the University of Lethbridge and the University of Saskatchewan.

In the first phase of the project, CRaNHR’s investigators will study nursing databases  to get a better picture of the work and the challenges faced by primary health care providers (including registered nurses, licensed practical nurses and registered psychiatric nurses) in rural and remote regions.

In the second phase, Dr. Pitblado says researchers will delve into the demands and the conditions of rural and remote practice.  “We want to know what is required of the rural nurse, and what can we do in our nursing schools to prepare you better,” said Dr. Pitblado.

The study is intended to produce “a clearer picture on the changing roles of health professionals who provide services in rural and remote communities,” according to a release posted by Health Canada, and “will also touch on the experiences of Aboriginal nurses who practice in Inuit and First Nations communities.”

The study is also concerned with issues of recruitment and retention outside the larger population centres.  Ultimately, Dr. Pitblado says the research is aimed at improving the quality of health care for millions of people.  “We want to make a difference in the lives of rural Canadians, whose first and sometimes only access to primary health care is through a nurse, who may be working in a remote community with very little support,” he said.

CRaNHR collaborates with researchers across the country.  Its mandate is to conduct interdisciplinary research on rural health with a view to improving service and access to health care, especially in rural and northern communities, and enhancing understanding of the health care system.

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