Physician Residency Rural Training Baseline Study


The supply of rural physicians is in part determined by the number of family physicians who receive residency training in rural areas. This study explored what proportion of all family medicine residency experience actually takes place in rural areas in the United States. Questionnaires were mailed to all 453 civilian family practice residencies in the United States in 2000. Programs were asked to indicate the extent to which training rural physicians was part of their core mission and to specify where all residency training sponsored by their programs took place. Using the Rural-Urban Commuting Areas, the ZIP codes of these locations allowed us to determine the relative rurality of all U.S. family practice residency training. Only 33 family medicine residency programs (7.4%) were located in rural areas. Most of the training sponsored by these rural programs occured in rural areas. Although over one-third of the urban programs listed rural training as an important part of their mission, only 2.3% of the training they supported took place in rural areas. For the nation, 7.5% of family medicine residency training occurred in rural areas, although 22.3% of the U.S. population lives in rural places. This study concluded that very little family medicine residency training actually took place in rural areas. To the extent that there was a link between the place of training and future practice, the lack of rural training contributed to the shortage of rural physicians. Funded by HRSA’s ORHP.