oa South African Family Practice - The perceptions of rural women doctors about their work : original research

Volume 46, Issue 3
  • ISSN : 2078-6190
  • E-ISSN: 2078-6204



<i>Background:</i> Recruitment and retention of medical staff are important issues in rural health. The aim of this study was to describe and understand the perceptions of women doctors working in rural hospitals in South Africa about their work. <br><i>Methods:</i> This was a descriptive study, using a qualitative methodology. Free attitude interviews were conducted with 14 women doctors. Themes were identified and tested against the data and comments from the research diary. <br><i>Results:</i> The main theme was balance. A rural woman doctor has to juggle different issues, including running the household and responsibilities at work. Other themes that were identified included the reason for working at a rural hospital, attitudes to rural life, opportunities for personal and professional growth, the feeling of being needed in a rural hospital, advantages and disadvantages for children and family, the impact of relationships on the rural woman doctor, issues regarding the environment and security, and that the proximity of home and work gives a rural woman doctor far more connection with her family. <br><i>Conclusions:</i> Some of the themes identified in this study agreed with international research, e.g. the importance of a job for the spouse, family considerations influencing the choice to specialise, and balancing responsibilities at home and work. The advantage of accommodation close to the hospital is a theme that has not been documented before. Based on the findings, recommendations are made to attract women doctors to rural areas.

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