Recruitment and Retention of the Rural Podiatric Workforce in New Zealand: Podiatrist Perceptions
Background The role of podiatrist is important to the health and wellbeing of our rural communities. However, in New Zealand, there is a recognised shortage of podiatrists. Furthermore, the ability to recruit and retain primary care podiatrists in rural areas is thought to be challenging. The aim of this study is to find out what factors contribute to recruitment and retention of rural primary care podiatrists in New Zealand. Methods This study uses a Qualitative Descriptive approach. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with a number of podiatrists to better understand the factors contributing to recruitment and retention of rural primary care podiatrists in New Zealand. Results A rural background or family/whanau connections to a region were the strongest factors influencing recruitment to rural podiatry practice in New Zealand. This was also the principal factor in retention, however professional and social factors such as career fulfillment, nature of work and sense of belonging were also strong. Extensive travel, heavy workloads and professional isolation were factors that contributed to attrition. Conclusion This study provides the first insight into factors contributing to rural podiatrist's recruitment and retention in New Zealand. The most striking factor for recruitment is a rural background, and yet no work is being done nationally to promote podiatry as a career option to potential students from rural areas. Based on this study and given the key role podiatry can play in achieving greater health outcomes, it is essential that a strategic approach to workforce planning and retention by health policy makers and providers is undertaken if rural podiatry is to meet the needs of rural New Zealand.