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Project Report - Circumpolar Special Issue: Human health at the ends of the earth

Postgraduate training at the ends of the earth - a way to retain physicians?

Submitted: 30 October 2009
Revised: 16 February 2010
Published: 18 June 2010

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Author(s) : Straume K, Søndenå MS, Prydz P.

Karin StraumeMona SøndenåPeter Prydz

Citation: Straume K, Søndenå MS, Prydz P.  Postgraduate training at the ends of the earth - a way to retain physicians? Rural and Remote Health (Internet) 2010; 10: 1356. Available: (Accessed 17 October 2017)


Introduction:  The recruitment and retention of health workers, crucial to health service delivery, is a major challenge in many rural and remote areas. Finnmark, the most remote and northern county in Norway, has faced recurrent shortages during the last 5 decades, especially of primary care physicians.
Methods:  This article describes a postgraduate training model for family physicians and public health/community medicine physicians, based on group tutorial and in-service training in rural areas. The effect of the training programs on physician retention in Finnmark is evaluated by a longitudinal cohort study.
Results:  In total, 65-67% of the physicians from the programs are still working in the county 5 years after completion of the group tutorial. Rural practice provides good learning conditions when accompanied by appropriate tutelage, and in-service training allows the trainees and their families to ‘grow roots’ in the remote area while in training. The group tutorial develops peer support and professional networks to alleviate professional isolation.
Conclusion:  On the basis of these findings, traditional centralistic training models are challenged. Postgraduate (vocational) training (residency) for primary care physicians can be successfully carried out in-service in remote areas, in a manner that enhances retention without compromising the quality of the training.

Key words:  family physicians, postgraduate education, postgraduate training, residency, rural retention, vocational training.

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