Recruitment and retention of general practitioners in rural Canada and Australia: a review of the literature

A literature review recently published by the Canadian Journal of Rural Medicine investigated factors that influenced Canadian and Australian GPs to practice in rural communities during 5 general stages of professional development:

1) Life before medical school

2) Experiences during medical school

3) Experiences during postgraduate training

4) Recruitment and retention after fellowship

5) Maintenance action plan: feeling satisfied.

Consistently, studies found a positive predictor for GPs returning to rural areas to practice upon “completion of rural electives combined with having a personal and family rural background.”  Negative predictors require some consideration by decision makers and health human resource planners, such as “undesirable on-call arrangements” and“lack of collegial support among rural general practices” – among the many found – so that more GPs can be recruited and stay in rural communities. The authors conclude that longitudinal efforts in recruitment and retention of rural health care providers “should be made at various points in the making of a family practitioner” to improve primary care access for rural residents.

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