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Year : 2022  |  Volume : 27  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 22-28

Why they leave: Small town rural realities of northern physician turnover

1 Northern Ontario School of Medicine, Thunder Bay, ON, Canada
2 Division of Clinical Sciences, Northern Ontario School of Medicine, Marathon, ON, Canada

Correspondence Address:
MD, MSc, FCFP, FRRMS Eliseo Orrantia
Division of Clinical Sciences, Northern Ontario School of Medicine, Marathon, ON
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/cjrm.cjrm_2_21

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Introduction: This study seeks to explore influential factors leading to physician turnover in designated Rural Northern Physician Group Agreement (RNPGA) communities in Northern Ontario, as well as physician's perceptions of the RNPGA contract and effects of the Northern Ontario School of Medicine (NOSM) on physician retention in these communities. Methods: Twelve qualitative semi-structured interviews were completed with rural physicians who had RNPGA contracts within the past 5 years but had left their practice community. Data collected from recorded interviews were analysed using a thematic analysis approach in order to identify common themes. Results: A range of factors influencing physician's decisions to leave were identified including lack of partner career prospects, burnout and lack of opportunities and amenities. Common challenges were sometimes also perceived as rewards of rural practice. The concern of lack of flexibility of the RNPGA contract was identified, as well as a perceived lack of presence of NOSM graduates in RNPGA communities. Conclusion: A variety of factors influence physician turnover in RNPGA communities. These may be considered by communities hoping to inform recruitment and retention policy. Renewal of the RNPGA contract may require consideration for availability of part-time positions, increasing the number of physicians funded and incentivising physician wellness. NOSM may consider mandatory postgraduate programme placements in RNPGA communities and further development of infrastructure in these communities to improve learner, graduate and institutional engagement.

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