Professor Roger Strasser AM

Roger Strasser

Professor of Rural Health, Te Huataki Waiora School of Health

Qualifications: BMedSc, MBBS (Hons), MClSc, FCAHS, FRACGP, FACRRM, LLD (Hon), MD (Hon), FRCGP (Hon) UK, FRCPSC (Hon)

About Roger

New Zealand's first Professor of Rural Health, Professor Roger Strasser is leading the University of Waikato's Rural Health Public Engagement, including public education about rural health and advocacy for rural health, as well as community engagement at the local level. In addition, Roger is leading capacity building in rural health research across remote and rural New Zealand.

Between 2002 and 2019, Professor Roger Strasser was NOSM Founding Dean and CEO. He is a leader in the global reform of rural health professional education and research. Recognizing the importance of context and community in medical education and research, Professor Strasser has become one of the world’s foremost authorities on rural, socially accountable medical education, and a sought-after speaker and advisor.

Prior to 2002, Roger Strasser was Professor of Rural Health and Head of the Monash University School of Rural Health in Australia and had an international role with the World Organization of Family Doctors (WONCA) as Chair of the Working Party on Rural Practice from 1992-2004.

Papers Taught

Research Supervised

Over the last 30 years, Professor Strasser has supervised many graduate students, as well as providing support and encouragement for many others for whom he was not a supervisor. Many of his former PhD students have pursued substantial careers as academics, one employed in a research only academic unit in the USA, or in health service administration, one of whom is now a hospital Chief Executive Officer in Canada. In addition, he acted as external examiner for 10 PhD theses in Australia and as internal examiner for five PhD candidates in Canada. Also, he has provided individual and group guidance to many researchers and research teams, particularly in general practice/family medicine, rural health services and workforce, and health professions education and training. This includes individuals who have started in research as research assistants on specific studies that have been part of the health services, health workforce and education research programs outlined in previous sections. One example is an individual who joined as a research associate over 20 years ago in Australia and now is a world-renowned expert in remote community demography, and a colleague in the Remote Rural Workforce Stability Framework program based in Sweden. Other current research colleagues are former medical students or trainees/registrars. When I was coordinating family medicine training 30 years ago, Professor Strasser initiated research experiences for trainees in rural family practice. While with Monash University, he initiated two Masters programs, one in Family Medicine and the other in Rural Health. For many years, he taught research methods to Masters students, as well as rural health issues and general practice/family medicine theoretical foundations. More recently, he has been teaching PhD students about rural health services and workforce policy. It is always exciting and rewarding to support early career researchers, as well as medical graduates as they develop their research skills.

Research Interests

Professor Strasser's research program over the last decade has focused on the workforce, social and economic impact of introducing a socially accountable medical school to Northern Ontario, a previously underserved remote rural region of Canada. The research has demonstrated dramatic improvements in access to healthcare for people in the remote rural communities of Northern Ontario in terms of successful recruitment and retention of doctors who are skilled rural generalists. In one study, eight small rural communities that had 30 FTE vacancies before Northern Ontario School of Medicine (NOSM) reported only one FTE vacancy and reduced expenditure on recruitment at the time of the study. 95% of NOSM MD graduates have chosen generalist medical careers. 94% of the doctors who completed both undergraduate and postgraduate training in Northern Ontario are practising in the region. In addition, there has been substantial economic impact and social impact in this previously socially and economically under-resourced region. For example in 2017, $43 million government investment led to over $122 million of new economic activity that would not have occurred without the medical school, associated with around 800 new FTE jobs. This economic benefit flows to the small rural communities as well as the larger urban centres. The social impact included a sense of empowerment and optimism about the future in these communities. The Remote Rural Workforce Stability Framework research program brought much of this Canadian research together with parallel research involving partners in four other countries that ultimately demonstrated a robust and effective framework for successful recruitment and retention of the remote rural health workforce. The World Health Organisation (WHO) is considering adopting this Framework as part of a global toolkit for implementing the WHO Policy Guidelines on increasing access to health workers in remote and rural areas through improved retention.

Examples of publications drawing on these research projects include:

  1. Abelsen B, Strasser R, Heaney D, et al. Plan, recruit, retain: a framework for local healthcare organisations to achieve a stable remote rural workforce.  Human Resources for Health 2020. 18: 63; 1-10.
  2. Making it Work: A Framework for Remote Rural Workforce Stability (2019). Recruit and Retain 2, Northern Periphery and Arctic Programme. Available at: This publication is the culmination of a seven-year, five-country partnership and presents an evidence-based framework which is shown to be robust and effective in ensuring sustainability and stability of remote rural health services.
  3. Strasser R, Cheu H. The Needs of the Many: NOSM Students' Experience of Generalism and Rural Practice. Can Fam Physician 2018; 64: 449-455. Part of an ongoing research on Generalism in medical education and health services, this paper confirms the importance of medical students undertaking clinical education in community clinical settings supervised by generalist practitioner role models.
  4. Strasser R, Hogenbirk, Jacklin K, Maar M, Hudson G, Warry W, Cheu H, Dube T, Carson D. Community engagement: A central feature of NOSM’s socially accountable distributed medical education. Canadian Medical Education Journal 2018, 9(1): e33-e43. This article summarizes much of the research that has explored the impact of the educational innovations implemented by the Northern Ontario School of Medicine.
  5. Strasser R. Will Australia Have a Fit-For-Purpose Medical Workforce in 2025? (Invited Perspective) Med J Aust. 2018. 208 (5): 198-199. In this paper, I have distilled insights from many years of research into health services and health workforce with particular focus on the education and training system producing the right mix and distribution of doctors to address population health needs in all parts of Australia.
  6. Mian O, Warry W, Strasser R. How underserviced rural communities approach physician recruitment: changes following the opening of a socially accountable medical school in Northern Ontario. Can J Rural Med 2017; 22 (4): 139-147. This article reports research into the success of rural communities in recruiting doctors who have undertaken their education and training in these or similar communities.
  7. Hogenbirk JC, Robinson JR, Hill ME, Minore B, Adams K, Strasser RP, Lipinski J. The economic contribution of the Northern Ontario School of Medicine to communities participating in distributed medical education. Can J Rural Med. 2015; 20(1): 25-32. Part of economic impact research, this paper presents the benefits to rural communities of rural education.

Professor Strasser's contribution to the previously described research programs has consisted of: seeing the opportunity and generating research questions; seeking and securing funding to enable these programs; recruiting individuals and organisations to participate in the research; guiding study design and data collection; oversight of data analysis; and interpretation, reporting and dissemination of research findings. Over the last 10 years, this dissemination has included: 17 monographs, including book chapters; 50 articles in peer-reviewed journals; 40 peer-reviewed conference abstracts; 90 invited international conference presentations, including 20 keynote addresses. In addition, Professor Strasser has provided consultant advice to many Canadian, Australian and international government and non-government organizations. In 2017-18 alone, he provided technical/expert advice to: Health Quality Ontario via the Health Equity External Advisory Committee and the Technical Working Group to Review Geographic Stratifiers; the Ontario Health Ministry as a member of Health Workforce Advisory Table; the University of Alabama Rural Programs; the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Human Resources for Health 2030; the Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD); the World Bank; and the World Health Organization (WHO). In addition, I provided consultant advice in developing new medical education programs modelled on NOSM including: the Finnmark model of University of Tromso, Norway; the University of Waikato medical school proposal in New Zealand; the Scottish Graduate Entry Medicine (ScotGEM) program; the University of Ulster medical school; Cardiff University in Wales; the University of Fribourg in Switzerland; and Umea University in Sweden. He helped develop the Rural Road Map for Action endorsed at the Canadian Rural Health Summit in Ottawa, and currently he is drawing on the Remote Rural Workforce Stability Framework in advising the Colombian government "Rural Health for Peace".

Recent Publications

  • Hogenbirk, J. C., Robinson, D. R., & Strasser, R. P. (2021). Distributed education enables distributed economic impact: the economic contribution of the Northern Ontario School of Medicine to communities in Canada. Health Economics Review, 11(1). doi:10.1186/s13561-021-00317-z

  • Mak, D. B., Russell, K., Griffiths, D., Vujcich, D. L., & Strasser, R. (2021). Lessons learned from adapting a remote area health placement from physical to virtual: a COVID-19-driven innovation. International Journal of Medical Education, 12, 274-299. doi:10.5116/ijme.61b3.56ee

  • Strasser, R., & Berry, S. (2021). Integrated clinical learning: team teaching and team learning in primary care. Education for Primary Care. doi:10.1080/14739879.2021.1882886

  • Hays, R. B., Strasser, R. P., & Sen Gupta, T. K. (2020). Twelve tips for establishing a new medical school. Medical Teacher, 42(4), 398-402. doi:10.1080/0142159x.2019.1571570

Find more research publications by Roger Strasser


Education; Education Research; Health; Learning and Education; Learning Environment; Lifelong Learning

Rural health; health workforce; health services; health policy; general practice/family medicine

Contact Details

Email: [email protected]
Room: TT.7.12
Phone: +64 7 838 4562
Cellphone: +64 22 010 4437