Why primary care physicians leave rural healthcare: 5 things to know

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Despite the drastic amount of money and effort poured into expanding primary care in rural areas, little is known about the factors that influence physician retention or departure from these areas.

A recent study published in the Annals of Family Medicine sought out these factors by observing 1.4 million primary care physicians between 2000 and 2014.

Here are five study insights.

1. The turnover rate for physicians age 45 and younger was almost twice as high as their older peers. A majority of these moves were from rural to metropolitan areas.

2. Female physicians, international medical graduates and physicians born in metropolitan areas were more likely to leave rural healthcare for urban healthcare.

3. Physician departure is higher in counties that lacked a hospital, had a smaller population size and lower physician supply.

4. Primary care physician mobility was not linked to the county's economic or demographic factors.

5. Primary care physicians working in rural areas adjacent to an urban area left rural healthcare more often. 

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