Wednesday, March 02, 2016

Study: Single docs and married ones with highly-educated spouses less likely to work in rural areas

Single physicians, and married physicians with a highly educated spouses, are less likely to work in rural Health Professional Shortage Areas (HPSAs) than married physicians with a spouse who is not highly educated, says a study published Tuesday in the Journal of the American Medical Association. The study, which sampled 1 percent of employed physicians from 1960 to 2000 and 2005 to 2011, found that the number of physicians with a highly educated spouse—six or more years of college before 1990 or a master’s degree or higher since 1990—increased from 8.8 percent in 1960 to 54.1 percent in 2010. In every year of the study about one-third of spouses with graduate degrees were also physicians.

Overall, 5.3 percent of physicians worked in HPSAs from 2005-2011, according to the study. Among all physicians, 7.2 percent of those who were married with a spouse who was not highly-educated worked in underserved areas, 4.2 percent of married physicians with a highly-educated spouse worked in underserved areas and 4.1 percent of single physicians worked in underserved areas.

Montana State University nursing professor Peter Buerhaus, co-author of the study, told MSU: “Other recently published studies show that nurse practitioners are more likely than physicians to practice in rural areas and underserved areas. Because people living in these areas are nearly three times more likely to have inadequate access to primary care, policy makers need to broaden their approach and consider increasing the number of nurse practitioners as a means to provide health care to these populations."

"Using nurse practitioners, physician assistants, tele-health care, changing the way care is delivered by organizations and by teams of clinicians and non-clinicians, locating medical schools in rural areas, and exposing physicians and nurses to rural health early in their education, all are needed to overcome the persistent problem of inadequate access to primary care," he said.

No comments: