Best Strategies for Recruiting Women Physicians to Rural Practice


This study examined differences in the factors female and male generalist physicians considered influential in their rural practice location choice and identified the practice arrangements that successfully recruited female generalist physicians to rural areas. We mailed questionnaires to generalist physicians recruited between 1992 and 1999 to towns of 10,000 or less in six states in the Pacific Northwest. Compared to men, recruited women were younger, less likely to be married, had fewer children, and worked fewer hours. Women were more likely than men to have been influenced by issues related to spouse/personal partner, flexible scheduling, family leave, and availability of child care, as well as the interpersonal aspects of recruitment. Commonly reported themes reflected the desire for flexibility regarding family issues and the value placed on honesty during recruitment. Men and women were equally likely to consider community factors, practice content, practice partner compatibility, and financial issues. The most common methods for obtaining information about practice opportunities were personal networking, prior training experience, recruiters, and outreach by medical practices. This study concluded that rural communities and practices recruiting physicians should place high priority on practice scheduling, spouse/partner, and interpersonal issues if they want to achieve a gender-balanced physician workforce. Funded by HRSA’s ORHP.