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Strategies for Increasing Allied Health Recruitment and Retention in rural Australia

Services for Australian Rural and Remote Allied Health (SARRAH) was commissioned by the New South Wales (NSW) Ministry of Health, Workforce Planning and Talent Development branch to develop a paper outlining evidence that answers the question:

What strategies have been proven effective or ineffective for increasing the efficacy of allied health rural recruitment and retention in Australia?

The take home message is that while there has been considerable research to identify the factors that influence allied health professional recruitment and retention in rural areas, there is

limited quality evidence to demonstrate the impact of recruitment and retention interventions on workforce outcomes across individual professions or the allied health workforce as a whole. This is due to issues with the research design such as small sample size, failure to control for extraneous variables, difficulty establishing a baseline against which to assess results, significant drop out rates in longitudinal studies, and an inability to identify causal relationships between interventions and workforce outcomes.

The strongest evidence concerning recruitment of Allied Health Professionals to rural and remote practice relates to:
  • Rural background
  • Curriculum that reflects rural health issues
  • Quality rural placements

Factors that influence retention are broadly categorised as professional and organisational, social (family and personal), and financial. These are modifiable to varying extent. Non-modifiable factors include location and community amenity, modifiable factors include:

  • Safe and supportive work environments
  • Career development
  • Nature of the work and outreach support
  • Professional networks
  • Public recognition of the role
  • Appropriate financial incentives

Read the full report here.