Strategies to Facilitate Improved Recruitment, Development, and Retention of the Rural and Remote Medical Workforce: A Scoping Review

Document Type : Review Article


1 Division of Health Professions Education, School of Allied Health, University of Western Australia, Perth, WA, Australia

2 Duke National University Singapore Medical School, Singapore, Singapore

3 Division of Health Professions Education, School of Allied Health University of Western Australia, Perth, WA, Australia

4 Western Australian Centre for Rural Health, The University of Western Australia, Perth, WA, Australia

5 School of Allied Health, University of Western Australia, Perth, WA, Australia

6 The Rural Clinical School of WA, School of Medicine, The University of Western Australia, Perth, WA, Australia


Medical workforce shortages in rural and remote areas are a global issue. Highincome countries (HICs) and low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) seek to implement strategies to address this problem, regardless of local challenges and contexts. This study distilled strategies with positive outcomes and success from international peer-reviewed literature regarding recruitment, retention, and rural and remote medical workforce development in HICs and LMICs.

The Arksey and O’Malley scoping review framework was utilised. Articles were retrieved from electronic databases Medline, Embase, Global Health, CINAHL Plus, and PubMed from 2010-2020. PRISMA-P guideline was used to ensure rigour in reporting the methodology in the interim, and PRISMA extension for scoping review (PRISMA-ScR) was used as a guide to report the findings. The success of strategies was examined against the following outcomes: for recruitment - rural and remote practice location; for development - personal and professional development; and for retention - continuity in rural and remote practice and low turnover rates.


Sixty-one studies were included according to the restriction criteria. Most studies (n=53; 87%) were undertaken in high-income countries, with only eight studies from low and middle-income countries. This scoping review found implementation strategies classified as Educational, Financial, and Multidimensional were successful for recruitment, retention, and development of the rural and remote medical workforce.


This scoping review shows that effective strategies to recruit and retain rural and remote medical workforce are feasible worldwide despite differences in socio-economic factors. While adjustment and adaptation to match the strategies to the local context are required, the country's commitment to act to improve the rural medical workforce shortage is most critical.


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Articles in Press, Accepted Manuscript
Available Online from 15 November 2021
  • Receive Date: 09 February 2021
  • Revise Date: 14 October 2021
  • Accept Date: 14 November 2021