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Home > Rural Workforce > Introduction
Introduction
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New England is a relatively small, six-state area generally perceived as being predominantly urban. In fact, according to a 2007 regional rural study authored by John Snow Inc., "Rural Data for Action," while only 20% of New England's residents are considered to live in rural areas, those rural areas cover 83% of New England's land area.

One of the biggest challenges to health care access in rural areas is the ability to recruit and retain qualified health care professionals. Wages are lower, working conditions are more challenging, opportunities for continuing professional development are limited, and peer support can be minimal.

Within each New England state, key organizations are making efforts to try to address rural workforce needs. Some of these efforts include loan repayment programs, recruitment centers, retention initiatives and pipeline development programs.

While all of these efforts provide an element of improvement to workforce issues, there is an increasing awareness among these stakeholders that within the New England region, each state is in fact competing against the other states to recruit and retain health care professionals from the same limited pool of applicants.

In order to reduce the extent to which this competition occurs and improve New England's collective ability to develop, recruit and retain health care professionals, the New England Rural Health RoundTable and State Offices of Rural Health, with funding support from the National Organization of State Offices of Rural Health (NOSORH), engaged in a process to develop a regional plan which engages partners in developing strategies to this end.

A regional plan was developed in a process that had four main components:

  1. Collect information on activities currently underway in the area of recruitment and retention in each of the states through the implementation of a survey to key stakeholders in the region.
  2. Collect information on stakeholder priority professions, settings and activities through the implementation of a survey to key stakeholders.
  3. Interview stakeholders regarding their reported activities and promising opportunities for regional health care workforce development, recruitment and retention.
  4. Convene an invitation only, day long meeting of regional stakeholders to facilitate discussion on regional workforce strategies.
  5. Produce a final report and planning document (PDF/226KB).

Acknowlegements: This project was made possible through funding and support by the National Organization of State Offices of Rural Health, New England State Offices of Rural Health and the New England Rural Health RoundTable. We would also like to acknowledge this List of Contributors (PDF/94KB) who provided extensive input, planning and generous time in support of this project.
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