Mentoring as a retention strategy to sustain the rural and remote health workforce

Lisa Bourke, Catherine Waite, Julian Wright

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


Objective: To propose a model of mentoring suitable for rural and remote health professionals. Design: Given the rural and remote health workforce shortage, mentoring is proposed as a workforce retention strategy. Mentoring literature was reviewed; aspects of mentoring highlighted in the literature were considered to ascertain their suitability for rural and remote health professionals. Method: A total of 39 mentoring papers were reviewed to outline key factors in mentoring rural and remote health professionals. Using this literature, key ways that rural and remote practice enhance or are barriers to mentoring were identified. From this, a model for mentoring rural and remote health practitioners, students and academics was developed. Results: Four models of mentoring were identified: the cloning, nurturing, friendship and apprenticeship models. The apprenticeship model was identified as suitable for students, the nurturing model as suited to new health professionals to rural and remote settings and the friendship model for senior practitioners/academics. Factors more likely to enable mentoring in rural and remote settings were identified as feelings of obligation by senior practitioners, strong relationships between staff, blurred work/social boundaries, lack of hierarchy, inter-professional practice and technology. The barriers identified included workloads, access to mentors, fee-for-service system for some practitioners, conflicts which could jeopardise working and business relationships, and feelings of being judged. Conclusions: A model of mentoring for rural and remote health professionals was presented. Given the potential to strengthen and increase the rural and remote health workforce, trialling such a model is worthwhile and evaluation would identify its impact.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2-7
Number of pages6
JournalThe Australian Journal of Rural Health
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • Mentoring
  • Mentoring in rural settings
  • Remote health professional
  • Rural health professional
  • Workforce retention

Cite this