Purpose: Community health centers (CHCs) are a critical component of the health care safety net. President Bush's recent effort to expand CHC capacity coincides with difficulty recruiting primary care physicians and substantial cuts in federal grant programs designed to prepare and motivate physicians to practice in underserved settings. This article examines the association between physicians' attendance in training programs funded by Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) Title VII Section 747 Primary Care Training Grants and 2 outcome variables: work in a CHC and participation in the National Health Service Corps Loan Repayment Program (NHSC LRP).
Methods: We linked the 2004 American Medical Association Physician Master-file to HRSA Title VII grants files, Medicare claims data, and data from the NHSC. We then conducted retrospective analyses to compare the proportions of physicians working in CHCs among physicians who either had or had not attended Title VII-funded medical schools or residency programs and to determine the association between having attended Title VII-funded residency programs and subsequent NHSC LRP participation.
Results: Three percent (5,934) of physicians who had attended Title VII-funded medical schools worked in CHCs in 2001-2003, compared with 1.9% of physicians who attended medical schools without Title VII funding (P<.001). We found a similar association between Title VII funding during residency and subsequent work in CHCs. These associations remained significant (P<.001) in logistic regression models controlling for NHSC participation, public vs private medical school, residency completion date, and physician sex. A strong association was also found between attending Title VII-funded residency programs and participation in the NHSC LRP, controlling for year completed training, physician sex, and private vs public medical school.
Conclusions: Continued federal support of Title VII training grant programs is consistent with federal efforts to increase participation in the NHSC and improve access to quality health care for underserved populations through expanded CHC capacity.