Shortage of Physicians in Rural Areas of the U.S.

There is a shortage of physicians practicing within rural communities of the United States of America. This shortage is even more profound for women physicians. My research has shared that out of the 20% population of people living in rural areas, only 11% physicians practice in these areas. In 2005, the goal of the Association of American Medical Colleges was to increase the medical school enrollment rate by 15% in 15 years. However, increasing enrollment by 15% does not guarantee an increased population of physicians practicing in rural areas. I have narrowed my population down to the state of North Carolina, as I believe the entire United States (U.S.) population would be too large for me to study. I am focusing on physicians who graduated from medical schools in the state of North Carolina but have moved on to practice in rural areas. My research thus far has shown me that there are many factors influencing the career choice or specialty and practicing locations of physicians. Some include the medical school experience, residency programs, and compensation. The influencing factor that my research has focused on is the curriculum of medical students and if that curriculum includes instruction on rural healthcare (independent variable). Research Question: Would the number of women choosing to practice in rural areas of the United States increase if a rural healthcare curriculum was included in their medical school programs? To help answer the research question, my recent efforts have been focused on literature review that support physicians choosing to practice in rural areas, most specifically women physicians (dependent variable), and the medical educational background they received. The focus has been intensely driven towards medical school curricula that include education on physicians practicing in rural areas. I have researched medical school curricula at the following medical schools: University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Duke University, and Campbell University, and East Carolina University Hypothesis: My hypothesis is that there will be more women physicians practicing in rural areas if they have been exposed to a rural healthcare curriculum in medical school or rural healthcare education while in professional practice Key Words: The key words that I have been using to conduct my research include: physicians, women, medical school curriculum, definition of rural, rural healthcare, career choice, practice location Data Sources: My research thus far has focused on data coming from the Association of American Medical Colleges, Medline Data, and Medical Journals with rural healthcare topics. I have looked at a large population group of physicians (age 30-45) and the review of secondary data and surveys completed by physicians practicing in rural areas. I am finishing my literature collection and capturing the data. My steps include the statistical model/test, analyze the data, report results, and accept or reject my hypothesis.

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