Building on Success: A study of Rural Alberta Communities’ Success Strategies in Attracting and Retaining Health Professionals (2019)
Undersupply of health services in rural Canada remains an ongoing concern. As a result, much time, effort, and funding are being invested in targeted activities to attract health professionals to rural areas.
This study investigated successful strategies that rural communities in Alberta use to attract and retain health professionals. A conceptual framework (Cameron, Este & Worthington, 2012) was adapted and used to guide this study. The framework outlines factors relevant for retention across three domains: community, professional, and family.
Twelve rural Alberta communities participated, selected based on their successful attraction and retention history. Interviews were conducted with health professionals, their partners/spouses, community members, and health-care administrators.
The most important factors for attraction and retention are:
- Attraction: health-care infrastructure, professional integration, connections with the community, and partner/spouse integration
- Retention: community infrastructure, work-life balance, work satisfaction, and partner/spouse integration
The study established that, while communities use a wide range of attraction and retention techniques across the three domains, the most common strategies are as follows:
- Community: hosting community welcome tours for physicians and their partners/spouses; showcasing community infrastructure; securing funding for new health-care equipment; organizing events to attract local talent and to recognize health professionals
- Professional: developing collaborative practice models and strategies to enhance work-life balance and mutual support including flexible on-call scheduling and mentoring for new recruits; creating opportunities for broad scope of practice, research, and continuing education
- Family: connecting newcomers to people and resources; offering housing support; connecting partners/spouses with jobs and volunteer opportunities
Building on Success uncovered many strategies used across the different domains and highlighted the strengths and gaps in current approaches. The lessons learned from this applied research will be incorporated into RhPAP’s community development services.
- Rural Health Professions Action Plan (RhPAP)
- Distributed Learning and Rural Initiatives, Cumming School of Medicine, University of Calgary
- College of Physicians and Surgeons of Alberta