Understanding recruitment and retention of doctors in rural Scotland: Stakeholder perspectives

Andrew Maclaren* (Corresponding Author), Jennifer Cleland, Louise Locock, Zoe Skea, Alan Denison, Rosemary Hollick, Peter Murchie, Philip Wilson

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Recruitment and retention of medical practitioners is a challenging contemporary policy issue for rural areas. In this paper we explore this issue in the context of doctors in rural and remote Scotland, drawing on findings from a service mapping exercise into the recruitment and retention of doctors in rural areas, conducted by interviewing key stakeholders in the delivery of healthcare in rural and remote Scotland, most of whom combine clinical and organisational responsibilities. The aim of this paper is to understand the key issues, drawing on what the stakeholders see across the day-to-day delivery of their clinical roles and within the varied levels of the organisational structure of Scottish healthcare to which they contribute. We build on a review of key literature of contemporary issues in rural Scotland, healthcare delivery in rural areas and wider international literature on recruitment and retention of medical practitioners. Our findings focus around three key themes: power of place; how people make place; and, place and policy. In our conclusion, we argue that the importance of this stakeholder research is three-fold. First, that such insights from stakeholders are important in shaping and preparing for future research on the topic, particularly interviewing those currently working. Second, it adds to and echoes the growing body of literature globally focussed on recruitment and retention, by expanding on the Scottish context. Finally, it proposes that appropriate and effective rural proofing is important in the implementation of new policies where place-based challenges or differences can emerge.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to) 261-276
Number of pages16
JournalThe Geographical Journal
Issue number2
Early online date3 Apr 2022
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2022


  • doctors
  • qualitative
  • recruitment
  • retention
  • rural
  • Scotland


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