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WMJ Vol. 117 No. 5: Special Report

Graduate Medical Education Initiatives to Develop the Physician Workforce in Rural Wisconsin

Kimberly Bruksch-Meck, MBA; Byron Crouse, MD; George Quinn; Linda McCart, JD; Kara Traxler, BS



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The physician shortage is an increasing concern across the nation. Wisconsin is seeing this shortage grow even more prominently in rural counties. In order to prepare a sufficient rural physician workforce, several state-funded programs are collaborating to monitor the number of rural graduate medical education (GME) opportunities available, assess the number of rural physicians needed to meaningfully reduce the shortage, and promote effective development and expansion of new and existing opportunities. From 2010 to 2017, there has been substantial growth in rural-focused undergraduate, graduate, and continuing medical education opportunities; by 2020, there will be 141 new rural GME positions through creating new and expanding existing residency and fellowship programs. Once residents and fellows graduate from their respective programs, it will be possible to measure to what degree rural program expansion may impact the number of physicians who choose to stay and practice in rural Wisconsin communities. The program initiatives in this report have demonstrated success in increasing residency and fellowship training opportunities with early outcomes indicating this strategy is effective in the recruitment and retention of physicians in rural Wisconsin.

Author Affiliations: Department of Family Medicine and Community Health, School of Medicine and Public Health, University of Wisconsin, Madison, Wis (Bruksch-Meck, Crouse); Wisconsin Council on Medical Education and Workforce, Madison, Wis (Quinn); Wisconsin Department of Health Services, Madison, Wis (McCart); Wisconsin Collaborative for Rural Graduate Medical Education, Rural Wisconsin Health Cooperative, Sauk City, Wis (Traxler).

Corresponding Author: Kimberly Bruksch-Meck, MBA, Department of Family Medicine, University of Wisconsin, 2819 Alumni Hall, 1100 Delaplaine Court, Madison, WI 53715; phone 608.265.5670; email kimberly.bruksch-meck@fammed.wisc.edu.

Funding/Support: Support was received from the Wisconsin Rural Physician Residency Assistance Program.

Financial Disclosures: None declared.