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WMJ Vol. 117 No. 5: Brief Report

Factors Influencing Rural Physician Retention Following Completion of a Rural Training Track Family Medicine Residency Program

Colleen Morken, BS; Kimberly Bruksch-Meck, MBA; Byron Crouse, MD; Kara Traxler, BS



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Introduction: Rural training track residency programs were created to aid in addressing the shortage of rural physicians. While these programs have been shown to increase rural recruitment and retention, the reasons for improved retention are unclear.

Methods: We analyzed survey results of 16 graduates of the UW-Baraboo Rural Training Track Family Medicine Residency Program on which factors influenced rural retention.

Results: Participants cited the wishes of significant others, meaningful work, and integration into the local community as the most important factors in rural retention. Loan repayment and teaching opportunities were least important.

Discussion: The factors identified in this study as important to rural retention were supported by previous literature and have remained consistent over time for rural physicians, including rural training track graduates.

Conclusion: Rural Training Track alumni physicians in our study found similar factors important to rural retention when compared to other rural physicians in the United States reported in the literature, regardless of residency background. These factors continue to be important to shape retention strategies employed by rural health care systems; future studies should evaluate rural retention strategies that utilize these factors.

Author Affiliations: University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health, Madison, Wis (Morken); Wisconsin Rural Physician Residency Assistance Program, Department of Family Medicine and Community Health, School of Medicine and Public Health, University of Wisconsin, Madison, Wis (Bruksch-Meck, Crouse); Wisconsin Collaborative for Rural Graduate Medical Education, Rural Wisconsin Health Cooperative, Sauk City, Wis (Traxler).

Corresponding Author: Colleen Morken, BS, MD-MPH Candidate 2021, University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health, 750 Highland Ave., Madison, WI 53705; phone 320.226.7047; email cmorken@wisc.edu.

Funding/Support: Funding for this project was supplied by the Wisconsin Rural Physician Residency Assistance Program (WRPRAP).

Financial Disclosures: None declared.