Several factors influence the number of clinicians available in an area as well as clinician retention and recruitment. Educational resources tops the list.
Location and culture are among the key factors that affect local healthcare delivery, says Allison Squires, PhD, associate professor at the NYU Rory Meyers College of Nursing.
None, she suggests, is more important than educational resources.
Squires has published her research examining the factors that lead to successful healthcare infrastructures in Human Resources for Health. Her conclusions indicate that investment in training homegrown staff is almost always a good policy for hospitals and health systems.
Squires recently answered questions from HealthLeaders Media about the implications of her findings. The transcript below has been lightly edited.
HLM: Tell us about your study and its findings.
Squires: This study looked at what national factors produce more nurses and physicians. What we found is that there's a specific combination of factors that helps to produce more nurses and physicians, from a contextual perspective.
Our study found that a more educated populace creates more nurses and physicians. Our models show that education, and educational resources, are what we want in terms of producing new clinicians. There are also other factors, such as the political environment, gender issues, and health systems factors as well.
I would say among the most important findings were how significant the correlations were between the average years of schooling of a population and the average number of nurses and physicians in a country. Education for nurses was correlated 59% to years of schooling, and for physicians, the correlation was 72%.
That is what we call a "significant relationship," meaning that the likelihood of this occurring by chance is very, very small. That is, I think, the most significant explanatory factor in this model.
HLM: What are some of the implications of your findings for rural hospitals in the United States?
Squires: It suggests that, when working with rural health professionals, we must support medical schools and getting people educated in rural areas, because if you educate people in rural areas and they train there, they're more likely to stay working in those rural areas.
Lena J. Weiner is an associate editor at HealthLeaders Media.