Training family physicians in community health centers: a health workforce solution

Fam Med. 2008 Apr;40(4):271-6.


Purpose: For more than 25 years, family medicine residencies (FMRs) have worked with community health centers (CHCs) to train family physicians. Despite the long history of this affiliation, little research has been done to understand the effects of training residents in this underserved community setting. This study compares CHC and non-CHC-trained family physicians regarding practice location, job and training satisfaction, and recruitment and retention to underserved areas.

Methods: We conducted a cross-sectional survey of a cohort of the 838 graduates from the WAMI (Washington, Alaska, Montana, and Idaho) Family Medicine Residency Network from 1986-2002.

Results: CHC-trained family physicians were almost twice as likely to work in underserved settings than their non-CHC-trained counterparts (64% versus 37%). When controlling for gender, percent full-time equivalent, and years from graduation, CHC-trained family physicians were 2.7 times more likely to work in underserved settings than non-CHC-trained family physicians. CHC and non-CHC-trained family physicians report similar job and training satisfaction and scope of practice.

Conclusions: Training family physicians in CHCs meets the health workforce needs of the underserved, enhances the recruitment of family physicians to CHCs, and prepares family physicians similarly to their non-CHC trained counterparts.

MeSH terms

  • Career Choice
  • Cohort Studies
  • Community Health Centers*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Family Practice / education*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Internship and Residency / organization & administration*
  • Job Satisfaction*
  • Male
  • Medically Underserved Area
  • Physicians, Family / psychology*
  • Physicians, Family / supply & distribution
  • Professional Practice Location*
  • Workforce