Original Research

Lived experiences and insights into the advantages important to rural recruitment and retention of general practitioners


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Daniel R Terry1
PhD, Lecturer in Nursing

Hoang B Nguyen2 PhD, Associate Lecturer

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David Schmitz3
MD, Professor

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Ed Baker4
PhD, Professor *


1 School of Nursing, Midwifery and Healthcare, Federation University, Ballarat, Victoria, Australia

2 Wicking Dementia Research and Education Centre, University of Tasmania, Hobart, Tasmania, Australia

3 Department of Family and Community Medicine, University of North Dakota, Grand Forks, North Dakota, USA

4 Center for Health Policy, Boise State University, Yanke Family Research Park Boise, Idaho, USA

ACCEPTED: 22 March 2018

early abstract:

Introduction: Despite existing studies in this field, community factors behind recruiting and retaining rural General Practitioners (GPs) are not fully understood.To address this issue, the Community Apgar Questionnaire (CAQ) was developed to extend the understanding of communities’ assets and capabilities that impact GP recruitment and retention. However, more in-depth insights are vital to develop a comprehensive approach.

Methods: The mixed methods study was administered using face-to-face structured interviews with a total of 40 health service representatives. All interviews lasted 35-40 minutes and were audio taped. Qualitative data was generated from the extended responses to the structured questions of the CAQ and later transcribed. Thematic analysis was conducted in relation to explanations, elaborations, and relevant strategic approaches to improving workforce retention.

Results: The qualitative findings illuminated the most important advantages of recruiting and retaining GPs were linked to Medical Support, Hospital and Community Support, and Economic factors, while the challenges were related to Geographic factors. The underlying reasons for and nature of those advantages and challenges reinforce that health professionals’ decision to stay or leave are complex and multi-factorial.

Conclusion: The originality of the study rests on the administration of the CAQ accompanied by the opportunity for participants to provide extended responses that givescritical insights into the complexities of rural recruitment and retention. As such, the results confirm the need for a flexible multifaceted response to improving rural GP workforce and informs decision-making in terms of addressing workforce issues within the scope of available resources and capacity.