Rural Workforce Rapid Evidence Review

Rapid Evidence Review

Some strategies are effective in recruiting providers to rural areas, but less so in retaining health professionals in these settings. This review provides an overview of the effectiveness of both recruitment and retention efforts.

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This review, conducted over five weeks by AcademyHealth’s Translation and Dissemination Institute, examined previously synthesized evidence concerning the effectiveness of specific recruitment and retention strategies and factors associated with health professionals’ decisions to locate in a given geographic setting. Supported by the Colorado Health Foundation, the review found that few approaches have a positive effect on both recruitment and retention, but that combining individual interventions may be the most effective way to expand and maintain the rural primary care workforce.

All the following strategies are effective in recruitment. The first three have been shown to also have some positive impact on retention.

  • Targeted recruitment of specific groups, such as those with existing ties to rural communities,
  • Professional development opportunities for rural practitioners,
  • Taking actions to ensure a stable, well-resourced work environment,
  • Educational scholarships
  • Loans
  • Post-graduate loan repayment,
  • Salary increases and other direct payments,
  • Short-term rural placements for students,
  • Curriculum tailored to rural practice