New Publication Spotlight: Preferences for Working in Rural Clinics among Trainee Health Professionals in Uganda

Many countries struggle to ensure equitable distribution of their limited health workforce. Health workers often choose to accept posts in urban areas, leaving rural and remote communities with reduced access to health care. What should governments do to recruit and retain more health workers in the areas that need them most? Put another way, what are health workers really looking for in a job?

Health workers in UgandaA CapacityPlus study investigated preferences for job characteristics among final-year medical, nursing, pharmacy, and laboratory students at select universities in Uganda. Participants indicated their preferences for job attributes—such as salary, facility quality, housing, length of commitment, and others—of potential opportunities they were likely to pursue after graduation. The study was conducted in collaboration with the Uganda Ministry of Health using CapacityPlus’s Rapid Rural Retention Survey Toolkit.

A new article in BMC Health Services Research, Preferences for Working in Rural Clinics among Trainee Health Professionals in Uganda: A Discrete Choice Experiment, presents findings from the study. Authors Peter C. Rockers, Wanda Jaskiewicz, Laura Wurts, Margaret E. Kruk, George S. Mgomella, Francis Ntalazi, and Kate Tulenko show that in Uganda, financial and nonfinancial incentives may be effective in attracting health workers to underserved areas. The findings contribute to mounting evidence that salary is not the only important factor health workers consider when deciding where to work.

As Rockers points out, “the Ministry of Health doesn’t have the resources to pursue all possible strategies” to recruit and retain health workers. Therefore, the findings enable the Ministry “to identify the most important strategies with the most potential to be effective,” he says.

To learn more, read the full article. The Rapid Rural Retention Survey Toolkit will be available on the CapacityPlus website in the coming weeks.

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Photo by Trevor Snapp. (Health workers and patient in Uganda)