Family Medicine Rural Training Track Residencies: Risks and Resilience


  • Abstract

    Background and Objectives: Family medicine rural training track (RTT) residency programs produce a higher proportion of graduates who choose rural practice than other programs, yet RTTs face continuing threats to their existence. This study sought to understand threats to RTT sustainability and resilience factors that enable RTTs to thrive.
    Methods: In 2014 and 2015, the authors conducted semistructured interviews of 21 RTT leaders representing two closed programs and 22 functioning programs. Interview topics included program strengths providing resilience and sustainability, risk factors for closure or vulnerabilities threatening sustainability, and advice for other RTTs. The authors performed a content analysis, coding pertinent themes in all interview data.
    Results: From the top three assets, risks, and advice that respondents offered, the following nine themes emerged, in order from most to least mentioned: leadership, faculty and teaching resources, program support, finances, resident recruitment, program attributes, program mission, political and environmental context, and patient-related clinical experiences. Interviewees frequently reported multifactorial causes for RTT sustainability or closure.
    Conclusions: Numerous factors identified, such as distance, can operate as positive or negative influences for program resilience, depending on place and context. Resilience depends on multiple forms of social capital, including robust networks among individuals and various communities: the local population and patients, local health care providers, residency faculty, and RTTs in general. The small size and remoteness of RTTs make them vulnerable to multiple challenges in finances, regulations, and accreditation, requiring program adaptability and suggesting the need for flexibility in the policies that govern them.


  • Authors:

    Patterson DG, Schmitz D, Longenecker RL

  • Journal/Publisher:

    Family Medicine

  • Edition:

    Sep 2019. 51(8):649-656

  • Link to Article

    Access the article here: Family Medicine

  • Citation:

    Patterson DG, Schmitz D, Longenecker RL. Family Medicine Rural Training Track Residencies: Risks And Resilience. Family Medicine. Sep 2019 51(8):649-656

  • Related Studies:

    Distributed Expertise: Sustaining Rural Training Tracks as a Strategy in Rural Medical Education