Tips for attracting and retaining female physicians in rural areas

Female doctor performing a procedure.

An on-call babysitter at 2 a.m. A flexible work schedule. These are two ways to attract and retain female physicians in rural areas, AAFP News reports.

Patients in rural parts of the country are often forced to drive long distances for appointments with their primary care doctors--and it's difficult to attract female and minority physicians to these areas, according to the publication.

Tapping the voices of 25 women physicians practicing in rural areas from Vermont to California, a study published in Annals of Family Medicine reveals that in addition to reduced/flexible work schedules, successful doctors need supportive relationships with spouses, parents and community members, and well-defined boundaries between work and their personal lives.

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Attracting and retaining female physicians in rural areas is important, since they're more likely than their male colleagues to deliver babies and are generally more successful in getting female patients to undergo health screenings, according to the study.

Maternity leave policies and flexible childcare options should be top of mind for communities that are trying to welcome female physicians, Julie Phillips, M.D., corresponding author of the study and an associate professor of family medicine at Michigan State University College of Human Medicine, told AAFP News. Providing opportunities for medical students to be exposed to rural medicine will also help, she added.

- check out the article
- read the study (.pdf)

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