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Introduction: Despite existing studies in this field, community factors behind recruiting and retaining rural general practitioners (GPs) are not fully understood. To address this issue, the Community Apgar Questionnaire (CAQ) was developed to extend the understanding of communities’ assets and capabilities that impact GP recruitment and retention. However, more in-depth insights are vital to develop a comprehensive approach.

Methods: This mixed methods study was administered using face-to-face structured interviews with a total of 40 health service representatives. All interviews lasted 35–40 minutes and were audio-taped. Qualitative data were generated from the extended responses to the structured questions of the CAQ and later transcribed. Thematic analysis was conducted in relation to explanations, elaborations, and relevant strategic approaches to improving workforce retention.

Results: The qualitative findings illuminated the most important advantages of recruiting and retaining GPs were linked to medical support, hospital and community support, and economic factors, while the challenges were related to geographic factors. The underlying reasons for and nature of those advantages and challenges reinforce that health professionals’ decisions to stay or leave are complex and multifactorial.

Conclusion: The originality of the study rests on the administration of the CAQ accompanied by the opportunity for participants to provide extended responses, which gives critical insights into the complexities of rural recruitment and retention. As such, the results confirm the need for a flexible multifaceted response to improving rural GP workforce and informs decision-making in terms of addressing workforce issues within the scope of available resources and capacity.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.