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Center for Health Policy Research on Rural Physician Recruitment Presented at Association of American Medical Colleges Conference in Washington D.C.

Center for Health Policy (CHP) researchers were invited to present research on critical access hospital physician recruitment and retention by the prestigious Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC). The research focuses on common factors in the recruitment and retention of rural physicians, a medical population that is expected to be more in demand since the Supreme Court upheld the Affordable Care Act.

Dr. David Schmitz, M.D., affiliate faculty at the CHP and associate director of rural family medicine at the Family Medicine Residency of Idaho, presented on “Comparing Critical Access Hospital Physician Recruitment and Retention Factors Across Four Northern States” at the 8th Annual AAMC Physician Workforce Research Conference, held in Washington D.C. on May 3-4. The research was compiled by Schmitz, Ed Baker, Ph.D., director of the CHP, and Dr. Ted Epperly, M.D., affiliate faculty with the CHP and program director and CEO of the Family Medicine Residency of Idaho.

Schmitz, Baker and Epperly have been active in developing and implementing the Community Apgar Program (CAP), which (1) identifies individual community strengths and unique opportunities for improvement in Critical Access Hospitals (CAHs) and Community Health Centers (CHCs) related to recruiting and retaining physicians; (2) seeks to understand state or regional patterns impacting physician supply which can be addressed at the macro level; and (3) creates a shared national database to facilitate broader understanding of important issues related to physician recruitment and retention to rural and underserved areas.

By participating in the CAH CAP, rural hospitals and communities can find improvement opportunities for physician recruitment and retention strategies, which can in turn lead to a community strategic action plan. The collective results of a region may assist policy makers to identify state level legislative and/or policy initiatives that can be useful for critical access hospitals as a whole.

“It is significant that the Association of American Medical Colleges has recognized the Community Apgar Program research as a positive catalyst to help meet the physician workforce needs of the near future,” states Baker. “The recent Supreme Court ruling which upheld the Affordable Care Act will put significant demand pressures on our health care system and this work will help rural and underserved communities attract and retain the physicians they need.”

When comparing data across multiple states, the researchers at CHP can identify trends that are advantageous or may be obstacles to rural physician recruitment and retention. Such studies allow policy makers in states with similarities to learn from one another. On a national scale, these studies could inform regional and national policy makers as they craft legislative or other approaches to addressing physician shortages in rural communities.

The AAMC serves and leads the academic medicine community to improve the health of all. It represents all 137 accredited U.S. and 17 accredited Canadian medical schools; nearly 400 major teaching hospitals and health systems; and 90 academic and scientific societies. Through its many programs and services, the AAMC strengthens the world’s most advanced medical care by supporting the entire spectrum of education, research, and patient care activities conducted by member institutions.