Remote novice allied health professional workforce preparation, recruitment and retention: Personality as an influence

Narelle Campbell1, Diann S Eley2, Lindy McAllister3

1University of Queensland; Flinders Northern Territory. narelle.campbell@flinders.edu.au
2School of Medicine, The University of Queensland. d.eley@uq.edu.au
3Faculty of Health Sciences, The University of Sydney. lindy.mcallister@sydney.edu.au

Background

Attracting and retaining an allied health (AH) workforce in rural and remote areas is an ongoing issue. Key trends from medical and nursing have shown that personality factors play a role in recruitment and retention. However, there has been very little research aimed at understanding personality factors that might influence AH professional recruitment and retention. This paper will address the gap, with a particular focus on novice AH professionals in remote and rural positions.

Methods

This national mixed methods study of the AH workforce comprised two strands: an investigation of personality characteristics using an internationally validated personality inventory, and a follow up study using a structured interviews. This combination of data sought to uncover personality characteristics and factors that contribute to successful recruitment and retention in remote and rural areas.

Results

The results (n=562) showed that a sense of adventure (Novelty seeking) and acceptance of uncertainty (Harm avoidance) was a useful combination of personality traits for recruitment potential. Younger professionals had higher Harm avoidance. Retention in remote included factors beyond personality characteristics such as confidence in a ‘generalist’ role, and a sense of contributing to the health of individuals and the community. Younger AH professionals were significantly more challenged by practicing in remote and more likely to consider that their expertise was under-valued by colleagues and community members.

Discussion

Policy implications and practical outcomes related to recruitment and retention of novice remote AH professionals will be presented from the research. ‘The village’ approach to raising successful remote AH professional ‘children’ will be emphasised.