Article published in Rural and Remote Health:
Women in rural family medicine: a qualitative exploration of practice attributes that promote physician satisfaction
Introduction: The USA needs more rural physicians. Although women represent half of all US trained medical students, the rural physician workforce has remained predominantly male. Insight is needed into what makes rural practice attractive for women and which practice characteristics allow women physicians to practice successfully in rural areas. This study’s purpose was to examine aspects of the practice environment that impact women physicians’ professional satisfaction and commitment to rural medicine.
Methods: Twenty-five women family physicians practicing in rural areas of the USA were interviewed by phone using a semi-structured format. Transcribed interviews were analyzed using an immersion and crystallization approach. Emergent themes were identified, coded, and discussed until team consensus was attained. Interviews continued until saturation of themes was reached.
Results: Three themes emerged from the data, in relationship to practice and employment attributes that contribute to US women physicians’ professional satisfaction and willingness to remain in a rural setting: professional relationships, practice characteristics, and support during times of transition. Participants placed high importance on professional relationships, both within and outside of their rural practice. Rural women physicians enjoyed practicing an expanded scope of care, valued loan repayment opportunities, and appreciated supportive practice partners. Importantly, women physicians who found themselves struggling to maintain rural careers often had experienced difficulty during times of practice transition, including maternity leaves.
Conclusions: Understanding practice attributes valued by successful rural women family physicians in the USA will help rural health systems, practices, and physicians-in-training to develop and evaluate opportunities that will best contribute to successful rural practice. Supporting women physicians during periods of practice transition may improve retention.
Hustedde C, Paladine H, Wendling A, Prasad R, Sola O, Bjorkman S, Phillips J. Women in rural family medicine: a qualitative exploration of practice attributes that promote physician satisfaction. Rural and Remote Health 2018; 18: 4355. https://doi.org/10.22605/RRH4355