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Bolstering the rural physician workforce in underserved communities: Are Rural Residency Planning and Development Programs finding the sweet spot?

J Rural Health. 2022 Dec 25. doi: 10.1111/jrh.12735. Online ahead of print.


PURPOSE: The purpose of this study is to describe the characteristics of Rural Residency Planning and Development (RRPD) Programs, compare the characteristics of counties with and without RRPD programs, and identify rural places where future RRPD programs could be developed.

METHODS: The study sample comprised 67 rural sites training residents in 40 counties in 24 US states. Descriptive statistics were used to describe RRPD programs and logistic regression to predict the probability of a county being an RRPD site as a function of population, primary care physicians (PCP) per 10,000 population, and the social vulnerability index (SVI) compared to a control sample of nonmetro counties without RRPD sites.

FINDINGS: Most RRPD grantees (78%) were family medicine programs affiliated with medical schools (97%). RRPD counties were more populous (P<.01), had a higher population density (P<.05), and a higher percent of the non-White or Hispanic population (P = .05) compared to non-RRPD counties. Both higher population (P<.001) and PCP ratio (P = .046) were strong predictors, while SVI (P = .07) was a weak predictor of being an RRPD county.

CONCLUSIONS: RRPD sites appear to represent a “sweet spot” of rural counties that have the population and physician supply to support a training program but also are relatively more socially vulnerable with high-need populations. Additional counties fitting this “sweet spot” could be targeted for funding to address health disparities and health workforce maldistribution.

PMID:36566476 | DOI:10.1111/jrh.12735

By Nevin Manimala

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