By Elizabeth Teets
In the next 15 years, the United States could have 150,000 less physicians than it actually needs to care for its citizens (Sataline & Wang, 2011). For healthcare organizations in rural areas, the news gets even worse: “There is a huge [maldistribution] of physicians. Physicians have a great tendency to congregate in and around large metropolitan areas. They like the lifestyle, educational opportunities and fine restaurants” (Cohen, 2011, p. 1). Experts in physician recruitment in the United States estimate that “82% of all residents indicate that they are looking for a practice opportunity in a community with a population of 250,000 or more” (Bonds, 2011, Differences in Recruiting Residents and Fellows Versus Practicing Physicians, p. 5). Barriers to recruitment in rural America are largely based on negative perceptions including:
• “Poor immediate access to cultural/social/recreational amenities…;”
• “substandard educational opportunities (nursery school through college)…;” and
• “Limited acceptable housing” (Bonds, 2011, Differences in Recruiting Residents and Fellows Versus Practicing Physicians, p. 12).
Furthermore, physicians who are successfully recruited into rural regions report “professional isolation…” “lack of physician peer support…” and “limited or no practice coverage” by their co-workers (Bonds, 2011, Differences in Recruiting Residents and Fellows Versus Practicing Physicians, p. 12) as primary reasons that they stay in their jobs for limited periods of time, sometimes less than three years.
Davis Health System must be proactive in recruiting and retaining quality physicians to the rural Potomac Highlands region of West Virginia. A formal, comprehensive retention plan is necessary to meeting our mission of providing quality healthcare now, and in the future. Adoption of such a plan acknowledges “…a physician recruiter’s work is never done. Physician recruitment does not end when a physician signs a contract, and an organization hasn’t successfully recruited a physician until he or she has been on board for a minimum or three years” (Bonds, 2011, Aggressive Physician Recruiting: Why and How, p. 2).