Introduction: Individuals living in rural areas are in a disadvantaged position for access to health institutions, getting the necessary treatments and reaching a healthcare professional in an emergency. It is important to explore the experiences, perceptions and the meanings of nursing students regarding health screening and rural areas. The aim of this study was to explore the experiences, beliefs and attitudes of nursing students to identify advantages and disadvantages of health screening in rural areas.
Methods: Health screening practices with senior nursing students were conducted in six rural areas. A qualitative descriptive study was performed using thematic analysis of open-ended responses to a web-based survey of 34 students aged 18 and over. This study was conducted in March and April 2020.
Results: The practices of nursing students in rural areas included determining vital signs, calculating body mass index, blood glucose and cholesterol measurement, depression screening, cancer screening and health education. Students acquired various perspectives for understanding rural life including colorectal cancer screening, evaluation of scales used in diabetes and depression risk. Nurse role characteristics were protective, advocate, supporter, caregiver, coordinator, collaborator, educator, counsellor, researcher, therapist, case manager, leader, care provider. Main themes generated were students’ emotions, the emotions of adult individuals according to nursing students, positive nursing characteristics, the advantages and disadvantages of doing health screening in rural areas, the contribution of working with health professionals, feedback for nursing educators and researchers.
Conclusions: Participants recognised their emotions, benefits and advantages of health screening practices but disadvantages were determined across the themes. Health services should be planned by taking these experiences into account in health screenings to be carried out in rural areas.