Objective: The present study presents the cultural challenges of introducing workplace learning associated with a nursing educational pathway into small rural hospitals. Design and Intervention: Focus groups were conducted before and after an action research intervention to determine whether changes in understanding and values on learning had occurred. Setting: Eight multipurpose services or small rural hospitals across rural New South Wales were involved in the intervention. Subject: Nursing staff from eight rural health facilities participated voluntarily in the present study. Outcomes: Two outcomes were achieved: ' The development of mentoring, locally tailored to the needs and expectations of nursing participants; ' Values and understanding of learning were enhanced, with advanced levels of learning being identified and demonstrated by staff in the practice setting. Conclusion: Small rural hospitals can provide opportunities for advanced clinical learning. Forms of major mentoring are, however, critical to this process. What is already known: With nursing educational bases shifting to TAFE (technical and further education) and university campuses in regional and metropolitan cities, the culture of learning has been largely lost or replaced with that of service delivery in small rural hospitals. Students studying in isolation often receive little support in clinical learning from their workplace. Action research intervention aimed to change the culture to one that values and supports workplace learning. What does this study add: The present study demonstrated how small hospitals can develop values around their workplace being a site of advanced learning beyond skill acquisition. This suggests the critical importance of establishing particular forms of mentoring for all staff, to establish advanced learning as a core business of small rural hospitals.