U.S. Medical Schools and the Rural Family Physician Gender Gap

Family Medicine

Background: Women comprise increasing proportions of medical school graduates. They tend to choose primary care but are less likely than men to choose rural practice.

Methods: This study used American Medical Association masterfile data on 1988-1996 medical school graduates to identify the US medical schools most successful at producing rural family physicians and general practitioners of both genders.

Results: The number of listed rural female family physician or general practitioner graduates among schools ranged from 0-27 (0% to 4.4% of each school's 1988-1996 graduates). There were approximately twice as many male as female rural family physicians and general practitioners. Publicly funded schools produced more rural female family physicians and general practitioners than their privately funded counterparts.

Conclusions: Our findings suggest that a few schools, most of them public, may serve as models for schools that aim to train women who later enter rural practice.

WWAMI Rural Health Research Center
Kathleen Ellsbury, Mark Doescher, L. Gary Hart