Objective: To explore factors affecting recruitment and retention of pharmacists in rural/remote areas of New South Wales (NSW).
Design: Qualitative semistructured in-depth interviews.
Setting: Primary care – rural/remote community pharmacies.
Participants: Purposive sample of 12 community pharmacists.
Main outcome measures: Factors affecting recruitment and retention of pharmacists in rural/remote areas of NSW.
Results: Respondents reported a variety of personal and professional reasons for taking up rural practice, including previous rural experience and a preference for working in rural over metropolitan areas. The main factor affecting retention in rural areas was the high level of professional satisfaction and interprofessional rapport. Perceived reasons for the current under-supply of pharmacists to rural/remote areas of NSW included changing demographics of the pharmacy undergraduate degree programs and pharmacy workforce, and negative perceptions of rural pharmacy practice and rural lifestyle.
Conclusions: This study identified factors believed to affect recruitment and retention of pharmacists in rural/remote areas. There appears to be considerable overlap between the factors, with different weightings of importance for different individuals. The lack of consensus for a proposed method of resolving this problem highlights its complexity and the need for further studies in this area.