A primary goal of action research is social change that is driven largely by the research participants. A major assumption is that through the research process, participants are enabled to take knowledgeable action in their personal, work, or community environments, and that through this action they experience empowerment. Another is that action becomes possible as a result of enlightenment and emancipation through participation in the research. These assumptions were called into question during the course of an interpretive action research study conducted with nurses employed in 3 small rural hospitals in northern British Columbia, Canada. Examination of the issues that emerged during the study illuminates the ways in which nurses' professional and community lives are intertwined. This interconnection provoked a re-examination of how empowerment and emancipation can be realized by nurses in small rural hospitals.