Is GME Snubbing Rural America?

John Commins, June 19, 2013


Outcome Mapper

GME Outcome Mapper

Theories abound as to why young physicians won't practice in rural areas. But the key reason why young medical doctors don't fill these much-needed roles readily is a lack of accountability in publicly funded Graduate Medical Education programs, researchers suggest.

A new round of metrics doesn't bode well for rural healthcare.

The U.S. Census for 2010 says that one in five people —19.3% of the population, about 59.4 million people—live in rural America. Unfortunately, a new report this month from George Washington University School of Public Health and Health Services says that only 4.8% of new physicians plan to establish a practice in rural areas, despite the critical need.  

Clearly there is a disconnect between supply and demand. This is hardly news to most rural healthcare professionals, researchers on the topic, or physician recruiters serving rural areas. It's a topic that's been predicted and discussed for decades. That's what makes this persistent shortage all the more vexing. We know what the problem is but we can't fix it.

"I can't say we were terribly surprised but it does definitely confirm what a lot of us suspected. When you see the actual numbers it is hard not to be a little shocked and disturbed," says Candice Chen, MD, MPH, an assistant research professor of health policy at SPHHS, and a lead author of the study, which appeared this month in Academic Medicine.

John Commins

John Commins is a senior editor at HealthLeaders Media.


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