Attract Connect Stay is an innovative, community-led solution for addressing the wicked problem of rural health workforce shortages—that WORKS.
The Attract Connect Stay solution originates from Marathon, Ontario, Canada and that community’s response to its critical health workforce shortages which was the establishment of a community-funded and managed Health Workforce Recruiter Connector position.
Dr Cath Cosgrave came across the Marathon community’s approach in 2019 as part of a Churchill Fellowship trip to Canada. On her return to Australia in her report to the Churchill Fellowship she recommended:
Trialling innovative community-based models (such as Marathon community’s approach) aimed at strengthening and stabilising Australia’s health workforce in regional, rural and remote communities.
In 2020 a funding opportunity became available through the Foundation of Regional and Rural Renewal (Enhancing Country Health Outcomes) to trial the Marathon community’s rural health workforce solution in Australia. Dr Cosgrave assembled a Project Team of academics: Drs Moran, Malatzky, Waller and Boyce (all with expertise in rural health workforce strengthening) to help develop the project proposal (Attract Connect Stay) and also invited SARRAH to be the administering organisation. The grant application was successful and FRRR granted two-years of funding to the Project Team to trial the Marathon’s solution in rural Australia. The project commenced in December 2020 and concluded in December 2022.
The goal of the Attract Connect Stay project was to create an evidence-informed blueprint to support rural communities to successfully establish, manage and financially sustain their own Rural Health Recruiter Connector position.
Tools and resources are publicly available through a dedicated website (that’s what you’re reading here!). The Attract Connect Stay website and Free Course were created by the Project Team, drawing on:
- the community of Marathon, Ontario’s experience;
- the research literature on rural health workforce strengthening;
- Dr Cosgrave’s experience working directly with communities in the Attract Connect Stay pilot sites; and
- the evaluation work undertaken by the Project Team.
Dr Cosgrave’s continued commitment after the Attract Connect Stay project finishes
Dr Cath Cosgrave is passionate about addressing rural access inequities and resourcing challenges and supporting rural communities to become thriving and sustainable places to live and work.
To undertake this work Dr Cosgrave operates Cath Cosgrave Consulting and she and her team are committed to making a difference on rural access and equity issues. Dr Cosgrave will continue to support the Attract Connect Stay solution.
Dr Cosgrave’s team will keep the Attract Connect Stay website up to date and continue to write articles about the unique approaches and achievements of Attract Connect Stay sites. In 2023 Dr Cosgrave will also facilitate an online Community of Practice to support communities implementing the Attract Connect Stay solution.