Rural emergency department staffing and participation in emergency certification and training programs

Michelle M Casey, Douglas R Wholey, Ira S Moscovice

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

34 Scopus citations


Context: The practice of emergency medicine presents many challenges in rural areas. Purpose: We describe how rural hospitals nationally are staffing their Emergency Departments (EDs) and explore the participation of rural ED physicians and other health care professionals in selected certification and training programs that teach skills needed to provide high-quality emergency care. Methods: A national telephone survey of a random sample of rural hospitals with 100 or fewer beds was conducted in June to August 2006. Respondents included ED nurse managers and Directors of Nursing. A total of 408 hospitals responded (96% response rate). Findings: A majority of rural hospitals use more than one type of staffing to cover the ED. The type of staffing varies by time period and ED volume. On weekdays, about onethird of hospitals use physicians on their own medical staff; one third use contracted coverage; 18% use both; and 14% use physician assistants and/or nurse practitioners with a physician on-call. Hospitals are more likely to use a combination of medical staff and contracted coverage on evenings and weekends. Advanced Cardiac Life Support training is common, but Pediatric Advanced Life Support, Advanced Trauma Life Support, and training in working as a team are less common. More registered nurses working in rural EDs have taken the Trauma Nursing Core Course than the Emergency Nursing Pediatric Course. Conclusions: Rural ED staff would benefit from additional continuing education opportunities, particularly in terms of specialized skills to care for pediatric emergency patients and trauma patients and training in working effectively in teams.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)253-262
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Rural Health
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 2008


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