Study Examines Why Primary Care Physicians Leave Rural Areas

From the AAFP (hat tip: Dr. Butts):

The researchers found that the biennial turnover rate among younger physicians (i.e., those ages 45 and younger) in rural areas was about twice as high (17 percent) as that of older physicians (9 percent). Physicians also were more likely to move out of rural areas if they were female, international medical graduates, not born in a rural setting or working in a community adjacent to a metropolitan area.

Overall, greater turnover was tied to factors such as lack of a nearby hospital, poor physician supply and low population. Physicians ages 46 to 65 are more likely to leave rural areas that are adjacent to an urban area, the researchers found.

But the authors noted that some physicians ages 45 and younger may begin their practice careers in rural areas while they wait for an opportunity to change settings.

“Shortly after residency, physicians may choose initial employment locations based more on availability than on preference until their preferred option becomes available,” the authors wrote.