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Med Teach. 2010;32(11):e501-8. doi: 10.3109/0142159X.2010.519065.

A framework for enhancing continuing medical education for rural physicians: A summary of the literature.

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Academic Research and Development, Professional Development and Conferencing Services, Faculty of Medicine, Memorial University of Newfoundland, St. John's, Canada.



Recruitment and retention of rural physicians is vital for rural health care. A key deterrent to rural practice has been identified as professional isolation and access to continuing medical education/continuing professional development (CME/CPD).


The purpose of this article is to review and synthesize key themes from the literature related to CME/CPD and rural physicians to facilitate CME/CPD planning.


A search of the peer-reviewed English language literature and a review of relevant grey literature (e.g., reports, conference proceedings) was conducted.


There is robust evidence demonstrating that the CME/CPD needs of rural physicians are unique. Promising practices in regional CME/CPD outreach and advanced procedural skills training and other up-skilling areas have been reported. Distance learning initiatives have been particularly helpful in increasing access to CME/CPD. The quality of evidence supporting the overall effect of these different strategies on recruitment and retention is variable.


Supporting the professional careers of rural physicians requires the provision of integrated educational programs that focus on specific information and skills. Future research should examine the linkage between enhanced CME/CPD access and its effect on factors related to retention of physicians in rural communities. A proposed framework is described to aid in developing CME/CPD for rural practitioners.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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