Attracting healthcare professionals to remote rural medicine

Learning from doctors in training in the north of Scotland


Background: Research exploring the experiences of trainee doctors in remote and rural locations is scarce. Our aim was to gain understanding of the experiences and perceptions of Foundation Programme (FP) doctors training in placements in remote andrural areas of the north of Scotland.

Methods: FP doctors training in remote and rural areas in Scotland took part in a qualitative study (focus groups and individual interviews) exploring their training experiences and career plans. To make sense of a potential multitude of factors, we selectedsocial cognitive careers theory (SCCT) to underpin data collection and analysis.

Results: A total of 20 trainees participated. Using data-driven analysis, three themes relevant to the SCCT emerged. These are the educational experience (e.g., opportunities to develop skills, greater responsibility), geographical isolation factors (e.g., the impact staff shortages, poor accommodation, travel) and personal factors (e.g., social isolation, attitudes towards the experience).

Conclusion: Many factors impact on trainees’ experience of learning and living in remote and rural medicine (R&R) environments. These experiences can be very positive for some individuals but factors external to the educational environment influence the perception of the overall experience. SCCT helps clarify the interaction between individual and contextual factors in career decision making.

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