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Vick, Gagel, and Yerger Publish Report on Career Dissatisfaction and Plans to Leave Patient Care Among Rural Health Practitioners

Posted on 5/27/2015 9:23:27 AM

As part of its Mini Research Grant Program, the Center for Rural Pennsylvania awarded Brandon Vick $15,000 to analyze survey data for four health workforces in Pennsylvania—namely physicians, physician assistants, dentists, and dental hygienists—to identify rural/urban differences in the workforce makeup, career satisfaction, and plans to leave patient care.

Vick, a research associate with MARTI (Mid-Atlantic Addiction Research and Training Institute) and assistant professor of Economics, served as the primary investigator for the project. David Yerger of Economics and Margaret Gagel, a senior operations management major and honors program student, assisted in the research.

Overall, 14 percent of physicians reported dissatisfaction with their careers in the past year, with slightly more rural physicians reporting dissatisfaction. After controlling for other factors, the research indicated that rural physicians have 17 percent higher odds of reporting dissatisfaction, which is important given the strong links between career satisfaction and decisions to leave practice.

Higher rural odds of dissatisfaction tended to be stronger for the following subgroups of physicians: males, primary care practitioners, white physicians, those 60 years old and older, and those practicing in a single-specialty office. Rural physician assistants, dentists, and dental hygienists nearing retirement age also have higher odds of retiring in the next six years than their urban counterparts.

The results highlighted rural areas’ lower relative ability to attract and keep health care professionals who are satisfied with their careers—problems potentially related to health professional shortages.