Physician Supply: Getting docs to Smalltown, USA

July 4, 2008

It's never been easy to recruit physicians to practice in the nation's smallest communities, and the challenge is likely to escalate in coming years.

It's never been easy to recruit physicians to practice in the nation's smallest communities, and the challenge is likely to escalate in coming years. The strain could be eased if more medical schools agreed to add a rural training track, say the authors of a study published in the journal Academic Medicine. If 125 medical colleges and universities each added 10 seats per class to a rural medicine curriculum, the researchers calculate, they could churn out approximately 11,400 rural physicians during the next decade-more than double the current estimate of 5,130. Their findings are based on the assumption that schools without a dedicated rural medicine program would add one and those with established programs would add 10 additional students per class.