Introduction: Access to appropriate continuing medical education (CME) opportunities has been identified by many researchers as a key factor in retaining medical practitioners in rural and remote communities. There has, however, been very little research that has measured the actual effectiveness of CME programs on retention. The purpose of this article is to provide some evidence as to the efficacy of rurally relevant CME programs in retaining medical practitioners in rural and remote communities.
Methods: Evaluation data provided by 426 to 429 CME workshop attendees over a 3 year period has been aggregated to explore participants' perceptions as to whether access to CME has been effective in increasing their confidence in practising in rural and remote communities, reducing professional isolation and increasing commitment to remain in rural practice.
Results: Data from 429 respondents suggest that 94% agree or strongly agree that access to CME contributes to confidence in practising in rural and/or remote locations. Similarly, data suggest that 93% of respondents (n = 427) agree or strongly agree that access to CME alleviates professional isolation. When asked whether they were less likely to remain in rural practice without access to CME, 80% of respondents (n = 426) agreed or strongly agreed that they were less likely to remain without access.
Conclusion: The provision of CME based on the expressed needs of rural and remote medical practitioners tends to be well received and highly valued by workshop respondents. We suggest that professional support through the provision of rurally relevant workshop-delivered CME is an effective strategy in retaining doctors in rural and remote communities.