Background: Rural areas have scarce medical resources. Initiatives to address this situation in Latin America exist, but have been poorly evaluated. The Chilean Rural Practitioner Program, a policy of recruitment and retention of physicians in rural areas, has been stable over time. Aim: To examine how physicians who participate in this program evaluate it. Material and methods: Nationally representative cross sectional study. Physicians were chosen to respond online or by telephone a specially designed questionnaire about the Program. Results: 202 participants answered (response rate of 60%). The overall experience was evaluated with 5.75 points (in a 1 to 7 scale). Participants gave the best scores to climatic conditions and economic income, and rated infrastructure, human resources and workload the worst. The evaluation of social relationships at the destination place was the only condition associated significantly with the overall assessment of the experience. Seventy percent of physicians would return to the destination place as a specialist. The value given to social relations and infrastructure were associated positively with this potential return. Conclusions: Overall, the experience was positively evaluated. This study provides information to improve retention policies for human resources for health care in rural areas.
Health policy; National Health Programs; Primary Health care; Rural Health Services