Relationship between residency training and practice location in primary care residency programs in Texas



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This dissertation analyzes one state's efforts to increase the number of its primary care physicians and encourage their retention and distribution to rural underserved areas. This analysis was accomplished through an examination of physicians as they completed training in Texas family medicine, internal medicine, pediatrics, and obstetric/gynecology residency programs. State licensure data provided insights into these primary care specialties by showing which residents remained in the state to practice, and by showing the numbers and specialties of physicians who practice in rural underserved areas. The primary purpose of this study was to increase understanding and document similarities and differences in the primary care residency programs' production of physicians who remained in Texas and who practiced in a whole county HPSA following training. The following analyses were used to evaluate the research questions and hypotheses: frequency distributions, geographic depictions, Chi-Square tests and binary logistic regression. These analyses provided supporting evidence that significant differences exist among resident programs in the four primary care medical specialties. Differences were also found in residents' likelihood to remain in Texas to practice and their likelihood to practice in whole county Health Professional Shortage Areas (HPSAs). This study showed that those residents who trained in Texas largely remained in Texas and actively practiced medicine years after their residency training had been completed. The training and location of primary care physicians in Texas is influenced by what medical specialty programs are available and where. This suggests that increasing the number and type of residency programs in more remote areas may have a positive influence on the physician workforce of those regions. This study confirms the finding of other institutional and single medical specialty studies that physicians tend to remain in the state in which they complete their residency training. However, this study found that there are variations by primary care specialty, gender, ethnicity, and program location. Residency training is an essential piece in supplying the Texas physician workforce and ensuring that its stability and long-term growth will position it to be prepared to care for the population.