Master of Nursing candidate Noëlle Sedgwick (BN ’13, RN) had spent time working in rural hospitals in both Saskatchewan and Alberta as a nurse since receiving her bachelor’s degree. During this time, she learned of the importance of rural culture in providing proper care for people of all ages, especially in the case of end-of-life care. Such experiences inspired Noëlle to pursue her graduate studies under Dr. Shannon Spenceley’s supervision and examine the nurse’s perspective on providing end-of-life care, and the effect of rural culture on the delivery of this care.

In a rural setting, there are not a lot of doctors or specialized health care professionals to help the nursing staff. Noëlle explains that the nursing staff in rural hospitals act as the first point of contact for patients, and with this comes considerable trust that you will provide the best care possible. This is especially true when providing end-of-life care. Through interviews with rural nurses, Noëlle learned about their own experiences in providing end-of-life care. Noëlle analyzed the information gleaned from these interviews and discovered profound effects of rural culture in these cases. When providing end-of-life care, the hospital becomes an extension of the patient’s “home”.

The smaller populations of rural areas result in nurses having to treat patients who may be family, friends, and acquaintances. This strong sense of community that develops in rural areas has a significant effect on the patient’s perception of “home” when they receive end-of-life care. Furthermore, the patient’s perception of “home”, and rural culture that the nurses are immersed in, must be understood and accounted for when providing end-of-life care in rural hospitals.