Safety-Net Settings Study: If You Train Docs There, They’ll Likely Return

Dec 17, 2013, 12:00 PM

Newly minted physicians who train in underserved health facilities are much more likely to continue practicing in such facilities after completing their residency training, according to research by the Robert Graham Center for Policy Studies in Family Medicine and Primary Care, an independent research unit of the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP).

The study, “Do Residents Who Train in Safety Net Settings Return for Practice?,” found that up to half of medical residents who trained in rural health clinics, critical access hospitals, and federally qualified health centers—which serve most of the nation's uninsured and underinsured patients—returned to practice in those settings. The study is published in the December issue of Academic Medicine.

“Overall, between one-third and one-half of the residents we identified in any of these settings during training were also identified as practicing in these same settings after training,” writes Robert Phillips, MD, MSPH, and his co-authors.

Of the residents who trained in any of these three settings, more than one-third (38%) returned to practice in a rural health clinic; 31 percent returned to practice in a federally qualified health center; and 53 percent returned to practice in a critical access hospital.

By comparison, only 2 percent of all residents practice in safety-net facilities.

“Our finding that training young physicians in these settings makes them much more likely to return to work there suggests that training programs and funders should make these settings a priority for residency training expansion,” Phillips told AAFP News Now.

Read the study in Academic Medicine.
Read coverage of it in AAFP News Now.

This commentary originally appeared on the RWJF Human Capital Blog. The views and opinions expressed here are those of the authors.