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Context: Community factors of varied importance help determine the success of achieving and maintaining a physician workforce. The purpose of this study was to develop an evaluation instrument (Community Apgar Questioinnaire) useful to rural Idaho communities’ in their assessment of the assets and capabilities related to physician recruitment and retention.

Methods: A quantitative scoring interview instrument was developed based on a literature review, site visits and discussions with rural physicians and hospital administrators. A total of 11 rural Idaho communities differing in geography and other known variables were selected, some identified historically to have more success in recruitment and retention (α communities) and some historically noted to have more challenges (β communities). In each community, the administrator of the hospital and the physician with recruiting responsibilities participated individually in a structured interview.

Results: A total of 11 physicians and 11 CEOs participated in the study. Differences were found across and within classes of factors associated with success in physician recruitment and retention where alpha communities scored higher on Community Apgar Questionnaire metrics. Some differences were noted by respondent class. Cumulative mean Community Apgar scores are higher in communities that have historically better track records in recruitment and retention.

Conclusion: The Community Apgar Questionnaire seems to discriminate between communities with differing assets and capabilities, based on historical community-specific workforce trends. This assessment may allow for identification of both modifiable and non-modifiable factors and also may suggest which factors are most important for a community with limited available resources to address.

Copyright Statement

This document was originally published in Rural and Remote Health by Deakin University/James Cook University. © DF Schmitz, E Baker, A Nukui, T Epperly, 2011. Copyright restrictions may apply.