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The Attract Connect Stay Solution

Attract Connect Stay is a proven, grass roots, bottom-up program, mobilising the passion, knowledge and practical skills of residents, community groups and local organisations to better attract and retain health workforce professionals. The Attract Connect Stay solution is to establish a locally-funded, locally-recruited and community-managed – Health Workforce Recruiter Connector.

The Health Workforce Recruiter Connector (HWRC) model was conceived in 2009 by the community in the town of Marathon Ontario who, at the time, were experiencing critical health workforce shortages.

The HWRC’s role is to build networks to better identify and successfully ATTRACT out-of-area health professionals who are a ‘strong fit’ for local healthcare positions and for the local community. The HWRC is then responsible for assisting newcomer health professionals (and their families) to CONNECT by supporting them with settling-in (including helping partners find suitable employment) and helping them build social connections. The HWRC does this by drawing on and linking newcomers into local networks and supports. The overall aim of HWRC position is to build and strengthen the local health workforce by identifying and attracting out-of-area health professionals to relocate and then supporting them in tailored ways that will encourage them to choose to STAY.

The town of Marathon has approximately 3,300 residents and operates a healthcare hub that services a population catchment of 5,000. The hub includes a primary care clinic (the Marathon Family Health Team) and a family physician run small hospital (22 beds).

From 2009 to 2021, the HWRC has successfully attracted over 20 health professionals including for Marathon Family Health Team:

  • Medical: 7 family physicians and 1 physician assistant
  • Allied health: 3 physiotherapists
  • Nursing: 2 nurse practitioners, 4 registered nurses and 2 enrolled nurses.

As well as over the same period continuously attracting nursing staff for the local hospital.

The HWRC has had ‘tremendous success’ in the retention of health workers. As a result, the town of Marathon has not experienced any health workforce shortages since the position has been in place.

This recruitment and retention success has been achieved despite Marathon being situated in a region that experiences severe and chronic health workforce shortages.

The benefits for the Marathon community (including its health professionals) from having a full, stable and sustainable health workforce have been multiple:

  • the health services on offer in Marathon have expanded
  • health professionals have high job and life satisfaction arising from work conditions that prioritise wellbeing and work/life balance (part-time positions and regular leave backfilled by locums)
  • the rural pipeline strategy is supported by local health professionals having time and energy to support visiting medical and allied health ‘learners’

Listen and learn from the Marathon community

Marathon’s health workforce recruitment and retention successes and how the Health Workforce Recruiter Connector operates are better told directly by the people involved. So we strongly encourage you to take the time and watch the following video interviews that Dr Cosgrave undertook with key Marathon people. They will be most useful if watched in the order presented below:

Meet Brett Redden —Marathon’s Health Workforce Recruiter Connector


Meet Dr Sarah Newbery— A long-standing Marathon family physician involved in the development of the Health Workforce Recruiter Connector model and a member of the Management Committee


Meet the members of the Management Committee — hear why they got involved, what they contribute and what they think are the benefits of the position or their organisations and the Marathon community


To read more, go to the resources section and look for:

  • The Marathon Community Case Study – the creators of the Attract Connect Stay solution
  • The Magic Sauce ingredients of Marathon Community’s Attract Connect Stay solution


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