January 9 2012
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Project Talent Nursing A Test of Affinity for Small Towns: The Role it Plays in Rural Recruitment and Migration (and implication for rural economic development). January 9, 2012. Presented at the 2012 Applied Demography Conference, San Antonio, Tx .

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January 9, 2012

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Project Talent NursingA Test of Affinity for Small Towns: The Role it Plays in Rural Recruitment and Migration (and implication for rural economic development)

January 9, 2012

Presented at the 2012 Applied Demography Conference, San Antonio, Tx.

  • Ronald Cossman, Associate Research Professor, Social Science Research Center, MSU

  • Philip Mason, Graduate Research Assistant, Sociology, Social Science Research Center, MSU

  • JeralynnCossman, Department Head, Sociology, Full Professor, Social Science Research Center, MSU

  • Katherine Harney, Director, NE MS AHEC, Social Science Research Center, MSU


  • Purpose of the survey was to:

    • Collect baseline data on nursing students in MS.

      • Demographics

      • Why they chose their school/program

      • What they wish to do upon graduation

    • Proof of support for the Project Talent employer-student matching program.

    • Identify their post-graduation relocation decisions

      • Retaining them in MS.

      • Recruiting them to rural & underserved areas of MS.


  • Dreyfus Health Foundation

  • The Kellogg Foundation

  • The MS Office of Nursing Workforce

  • The Deans/Directors of Nursing Programs

  • Social Science Research Center at MSU

    • The Northeast MS Area Health Education Center (AHEC)

    • Mississippi Center for Health Workforce

Student Demographics & Status

  • Age

  • Gender

  • Race

  • Academic classification

  • Type of program enrolled in

  • Enrollment status

  • Why they chose your school (location, location, location!)

  • Family members who influenced them to join the health care profession

  • Martial status

  • Desired Areas of Nursing

  • Desired Nursing Environment

The second objective of the study: “Project Talent” Proof of Support Location-Based Job Matching

  • It is difficult to recruit to rural areas

  • Can we identify those interested in relocating to rural places?

  • We asked for the respondent’s e-mail address in the event that a job matching program was started.

  • 73% shared their e-mail address, which demonstrates the commitment by respondents to share personal information with potential employers in their preferred locations.

The final purpose of the study – rural recruitment and retention

  • Rural places are hard to recruit to

    • Even worse for the Delta

  • Many communities in MS are medically underserved

    • MS’s nursing shortage is ~1,000 RNs (excluding retirements and turnover, according to the Office of Nursing Workforce)

  • How does one recruit and retain employees in these places?

  • What factors determine or predetermine affinity for a place, especially a rural place?


  • We originally based our research question on a study of family practice physicians and their relocation preferences for setting up their practice. Some 50% wanted to RETURN to rural places (<10,000 persons).

  • So, if choosing someone who would relocate to a rural place was equivalent to a coin toss, how could we predict who would return to a rural place?

Respondent Characteristics

  • What factors constitute affinity for place?

    • Birthplace?

    • High school?

    • Where family is located?

    • Where they spent time or summers?

    • Wherever they can find a job?

    • Wherever their spouse/significant-other can find a job?

    • The kind of job they want or job environment?

  • How can we predict who will return to a rural place?


Collapsing MS County Beale Codes Prior to

Matching to Birthplace and High School

MS Nurses, Wave II: Fall 2010

MS Nurses, II: Fall 2010

No Preference “Drift” Among MS Natives

No Preference “Drift” Among Mississippi High School Graduates

Two Explanations for Rural Nursing Graduates Not Returning to Rural Places

  • 1. Specialization

    • By type of work

    • By type of employer

  • 2. Fleeing Poverty

What MS Nurses Want to Do

Where Nurses Want to Work

Importance of Job Factors

It is not size of place, it is type of job

Fleeing Poverty? Perhaps…

  • The correlation between the Rural-Urban Continuum Code and poverty for that county code is .665

Future Directions

  • Conduct another cross-sectional survey in the Fall 2012

  • Conduct a longitudinal study of nursing students from acceptance into school until their first job.

    • At what point in time do they make a relocation decision?

    • Where do they get their information?

    • What factors go into their decision-making?

Thank you for your time and your attention

Dr. Ronald Cossman

Associate Research Professor

Social Science Research Center

Mississippi State University

[email protected]


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