Research centre REACH

What Do Indonesian Nurses Want? Retaining Nurses in Rural and Remote Areas of Indonesia

Citation: Efendi, F., Purwaningsih, M., Kurniati, A., & Bushy, A. (2014). What do Indonesian nurses want? Retaining nurses in rural and remote areas of Indonesia. Online Journal of Rural Nursing and Health Care14(2), 32-42.

Introduction: Lack of nurses in rural and remote communities of Indonesia has been a major concern of national and provincial governments. Given that imperative, the Ministry of Health implemented (MoH) the Special Assignment initiative which assigned nurses in underserved communities This study examines factors that influenced participants in the program to remain (retention) in their assigned rural setting.

Methods: Survey techniques were used to collect data from a convenience sample of 140 nurses  enrolled in the initiative. Variables included age, gender, marital status, financial incentives and  non-financial incentives. Descriptive and correlation statistics were used to analyze the data.
Results: Findings indicated that both financial incentives and nonfinancial incentives along with  age correlated positively with nurses’ intention to stay in the current rural setting. Non-financial  incentives were as important for these nurses especially achieving employment security as a civil  servant (government employee). Younger nurses seem to be more willing to work in rural and remote areas, which may be attributable to an individual seeking practice experience along with  increased financial remuneration for doing so.
Conclusion: The findings of this study provide baseline descriptive information on the retention  of nurses in Indonesia’s remote and rural underserved regions. Providing an attractive incentive scheme by considering certain demographic characteristic can increase their intention to serve in rural and remote area.


This study provided insights into factors that contribute to nursing retention in rural and remote Indonesia. Indonesia has a high rate of unemployment. Latest data from Jawa Timur province shows that unemployment rate for nurse in this region has reached 10,800 per year (Mulyono, 2012). In this study, younger nurses (77.3%) as in table 1 seem to be more willing to work in rural and remote areas. Some experts attribute this finding to traditional Indonesian cultural advocating individual responsibility to work with the underserved. One could speculate that this finding may be attributable to an individual seeking nursing practice experience coupled
with increased financial remuneration for doing 3so. Nursing is a predominately female profession but there are no precise data related to the gender of nurses in Indonesia. Consistent with other studies, variance between males and females along with their marital status did not seem to impact retention for nurses in this study (Dieleman & Harnmeijer, 2006; Dussault & Franceschini, 2006; Lehmann, Dieleman, Lexomboon & Matwa, 2005; Shields & Price, 2002; Tai, Bame, & Robinson, 1998). Given the preponderance of females in the nursing workforce it is important to understand the specific needs to retain both women as well as men in the rural and remote areas. For example, family considerations often are important factors in career choices, but these may vary between males and females. There is a paucity of research that focuses on gender and marital status and the retention of nurses in rural and underserved regions, particularly in underdeveloped nations (Dussault & Franceschini, 2006). The majority of nurses (85%) in this study indicated ‘single status’, on the one hand they may have had had fewer immediate family responsibilities; thus allowing them to participate in this initiative which offered additional financial incentives. Conversely, one could speculate, a
nurse may have had family responsibilities that could benefit from a higher salary coupled with the employer fringe benefits.
In the analysis of the data, financial incentive was significantly associated with retention of nurses in the program. As the financial incentive increased, so did the respondent’s interest in remaining at his or her assigned location. Internationally, financial as well as nonfinancial incentives are widely used to recruit, retain and motivate an employee, and nurses are no exception. However, financial incentives may not be what motivate some nurses to relocate to a rural remote or underserved area. For some, nonfinancial benefits may be preferred and considered motivating forces (Van de Pas, 2010; World Bank, 2009; WHO, 2010; ). More specifically, non-financial incentives were at least as important for nurses in this study especially achieving the security of employment as a civil servant (government employee). The benefits of being a civil servant include health insurance coverage, retirement pays and remuneration for travel and housing costs. Civil servants may also receive a monthly supply of rice in lieu of a financial incentive. Date were absent as to the number of nurses in this study who achieved civil servant status as part of participation in the Special Assignment Initiative. For Indonesia, the potential for civil servant status with the associated benefits may be the most significant
strategies to entice nurses to serve in rural and remote areas.

[gview file=””]

× How can I help you?