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Aust J Rural Health. 2007 Dec;15(6):360-7.

Recruitment and retention of rural general practitioners: a marketing approach reveals new possibilities.

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School of Marketing, University of South Australia, Adelaide, SA, Australia.



This paper repositions the challenge of attracting and retaining rural GPs in a marketing context as a new focus for future research and policy development.


Case study with mixed design of surveys of GPs and medical students and depth interviews with GPs, medical students, regional-division administrators and GP recruitment agents.


GP recruitment and retention in the Limestone Coast region of South Australia.


Twenty-seven Limestone Coast (LC) GPs; random sample of medical students from Adelaide University, Adelaide University Rural Health Society and Flinders University; snowball sampling two adjacent rural regions (20 GPs); and administrators from LC and adjacent regions and GP recruitment agencies in Adelaide.


Drawing from marketing theory, creative suggestion of 'promotion of the practice and not the region' offers a means of GP recruitment and retention for structured succession planning for rural general practices.


Structural attempts to broaden the GP market with overseas recruitment have done little for improving full-time equivalent GP levels. Market segmentation and market orientation offer a new emphasis on value exchange between the corporation (the practice), customer (GPs) and competition (all practices) to influence future mobility.


A marketing orientation to the GP challenge emphasises individual's perceptions of value, GP expectations and practice offerings. Failure to acknowledge benefits of this marketing approach means that solutions such as those developed in the Limestone Coast region are unlikely. Research is now required to define GP satisfaction and value for long-term viability of general practices.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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