A recent report published by the U.S. Department of Agriculture identifies community-level factors affecting the recruitment and retention of rural healthcare professionals. The authors used key informant interviews and a survey of healthcare professionals in 150 small, rural towns in nine states, emphasizing a broad range of community assets and investments. Most participants perceived social capital (involving personal and professional relationships) to be important for the recruitment and retention of healthcare professionals. Human capital (resources inherent in people—such as their education, skills, and health) and physical capital (infrastructure, buildings, and equipment) were also important to most healthcare professionals, but generally less so than social capital. Other types of community capital were important to a minority of health professionals. The findings suggest that rural communities can have a significant influence on attracting and retaining healthcare professionals through investments in social, human, and physical capital. The importance of many of these factors varies across the study regions and professional categories. The full report is available here.
Pender, John, Maria Kuhns, Cindy Yu, Janice Larson, and Shirley Huck. March 2023. Linkages Between Rural Community Capitals and Healthcare Provision: A Survey of Small Rural Towns in Three U.S. Regions, EIB-251, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service.