Do Residents Return?

“Grow your own” is a popular phrase for those trying to improve the supply of health professionals in rural areas.  But does it work? The USDA recently released a report titled “Factors Affecting Former Residents’ Returning to Rural Communities“.

Factors which encouraged residents to return to their rural roots:

  • presence of parents
  • desire to raise their children back home
  • easy-going environment
  • outdoor recreation

Local schools also played an important role.  People who had a positive outlook on rural schools came back; those who felt that urban schools would better fit their child’s needs, did not.

The report summary goes on to say:

Family motivations dominated, but returning home also depended on securing a job, often involving creative strategies to overcome employment limitations. Return migrants frequently mentioned their acceptance of financial and career sacrifices for returning home. Most nonreturnees who may have considered coming home cited low wages and lack of career opportunities as the primary barriers to their return.

So the challenge for rural recruiters is: what can be done to improve the factors that can be controlled – school systems and economic environment?

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