The physician pipeline to rural and underserved areas in Pennsylvania

J Rural Health. 2008 Fall;24(4):384-9. doi: 10.1111/j.1748-0361.2008.00185.x.


Context: An implicit objective of a state's investments in medical education is to promote in-state practice of state educated physicians.

Purpose: To present a tool for evaluating this objective by analyzing the "pipeline" from medical education to patient care, primary care, rural areas, and underserved areas in Pennsylvania.

Methods: AMA Masterfile data (2004) including all physicians with a Pennsylvania address or who received medical education in Pennsylvania were analyzed. These data were combined with local physician supply data.

Results: About 36% of Pennsylvania medical school graduates provide patient care in the Commonwealth, 16% primary care, 7% rural care, 4% rural primary care, and 0.5% primary care in a rural underserved area. Fifty-four percent of physicians who received both undergraduate and graduate medical education in-state are retained.

Conclusions: These retention rates have developed within the context of a middle-of-the-road educational pipeline policy. If Pennsylvania policy makers consider that further pipeline development is advisable, there is room to amend current policy to that end. Conditions are favorable for other states to consider similar policy amendments.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Delivery of Health Care / trends
  • Education, Medical / statistics & numerical data*
  • Education, Medical, Undergraduate / trends
  • Health Workforce
  • Humans
  • Medically Underserved Area
  • Pennsylvania
  • Physicians / supply & distribution*
  • Physicians, Family / supply & distribution*
  • Professional Practice Location
  • Program Evaluation / methods
  • Public Policy
  • Rural Health Services
  • Schools, Medical / economics
  • Schools, Medical / statistics & numerical data*
  • Specialization