Background: Australians living in rural and remote communities experience relatively poor health status in comparison to the wider Australian population (Med J Aust 185:37-38, 2006). This can be attributed in part to issues of access to health services arising from difficulties in recruiting and retaining health professionals in these areas. The Rural Health Professionals Program is an initiative designed to increase the number of allied health and nursing professionals in rural and remote Australia by providing case managed recruitment and retention support services. This paper reports on early analysis of available programme data to build knowledge of factors related to the recruitment and distribution of health professionals in rural and remote Australia.
Methods: Administrative programme data were collected monthly from 349 health professionals over the first 13 months of programme operation. These data were collated and quantitative analysis was conducted using SPSS software.
Results: Sixty-nine percent of recruits were women, and recruits had a mean age of 32.85 (SD = 10.92). Sixty percent of recruits were domestically trained, and the top two professions recruited were nurses (29%) and physiotherapists (21%). Eighty-seven percent were recruited to regional areas, with the remaining 13% recruited to remote areas. Among reasons for interest in the programme, financial support factors were most commonly cited by recruits (51%). Recruitment to a remote location was associated with being domestically trained, having previously lived in a rural or remote location, being a nurse (as opposed to an allied health professional) and older age.
Discussion: The findings provide early support for a case managed recruitment programme to improve distribution of health professionals, and some directions for future marketing and promotion of the programme.
It is recommended that an outcome evaluation be conducted to determine the impact of the programme on recruitment and distribution outcomes.
Conclusion: The findings herein begin to address gaps in the literature relating to the effectiveness of interventions to improve the distribution of health professionals. While this provides some preliminary indication that case managed recruitment and retention programmes have capacity to improve distribution, further research and evaluation is required to confirm the impact of the programme on retention.
The information contained on this website has been sourced by the Australian Indigenous Psychology Education Project (AIPEP) and AIPEP 2. The first AIPEP was funded by the Australian Government Office of Teaching and Learning. AIPEP 2 is part of the Transforming Indigenous Mental Health and Wellbeing Project, funded by the Million Minds Mission Grant. The views expressed in this website do not necessarily reflect the views of the Australian Government Office of Teaching and Learning or the Million Minds Mission Grant.
Several of the images used throughout this website are credited to Chris Lewis