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ISRN Nursing
Volume 2012 (2012), Article ID 648769, 10 pages
Research Article

Translating Community Connectedness to Practice: A Qualitative Study of Midlevel Health Workers in Rural Guatemala

Umeå International School of Public Health, Department of Public Health and Clinical Medicine, Umeå University, 901 87 Umeå, Sweden

Received 22 August 2012; Accepted 5 September 2012

Academic Editors: C. Huston, B. Mandleco, B. Roberts, and T. T. Wan

Copyright © 2012 Alison Hernández et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Background. The performance of midlevel health workers is a critical lever for strengthening health systems and redressing inequalities in underserved areas. Auxiliary nurses form the largest cadre of health workers in Guatemala. In rural settings, they provide essential services to vulnerable communities, and thus have great potential to address priority health needs. This paper examines auxiliary nurses’ motivation and satisfaction, and the coping strategies they use to respond to challenges they confront in their practice. Methods. Semistructured interviews were conducted with 14 auxiliary nurses delivering health services in Alta Verapaz, Guatemala. Results. Community connectedness was central to motivation in this rural Guatemalan setting. Participants were from rural communities and conveyed a sense of connection to the people they were serving through shared culture and their own experiences of health needs. Satisfaction was derived through recognition from the community and a sense of valuing their work. Auxiliary nurses described challenges commonly faced in low-resource settings. Findings indicated they were actively confronting these challenges through their own initiative. Conclusions. Strategies to support the performance of midlevel health workers should focus on mechanisms to make training accessible to rural residents, support problem-solving in practice, and emphasize building relationships with communities served.