Community Factors and Strategies for Recruiting and Retaining Health Care Providers to Rural and Remote Areas

Introduction and Context
[Excerpts}The recruitment of health care providers to rural and remote communities in British Columbia (B.C.) and other rural jurisdictions is a persistent challenge. The importance of community participation in the recruitment and retention of health care providers has been demonstrated through “proof of concept” projects in rural communities across B.C. and elsewhere, and rea rmed through this scoping review. We anticipate that the evidence presented here will provide the platform for a robust provincial discussion and strategy.

Findings
Positive community characteristics that supported recruitment included the friendliness, adaptability, and cohesiveness of rural communities, as well as strong local leadership. Strategies included the intentional integration of the care provider into the local community; support for the provider’s family; assessment of local capacity for recruitment and retention; community ‘marketing’; the role of a local ‘recruitment coordinator’; community development activities; and incentives.

Recommendations
1. That the B.C. Ministry of Health, Health Authorities and other key stakeholders (UBCM) recognize the integrated nature of rural recruitment and retention to the viability of rural communities more generally.

2. In response to the need for health care professionals, rural communities be actively engaged in the recruitment and retention of health care providers.

3. As part of community discussions, local industry be included as key stakeholders as those with a vested interest in and potential support for local recruitment and retention efforts.

4. That the discrete recruitment and retention needs of rural Indigenous communities as articulated by the communities themselves be observed, particularly within the legacy of colonial health care and the need to ensure cultural safety and humility.

5. That the regional planning process be undertaken in a transparent way, with a clear rationale for resource allocation decisions.

6. That all collaborative (community-health system) recruitment and retention e orts be
evaluated for: (a) the e ectiveness of the approach; (b) the costs involved; (c) the sustainability of the candidate; and (d) lessons learned.

7. That communities that achieve their recruitment and retention goals through collaboratively designed and executed processes document their successes so they may be role models for other communities.