Community dimensions and HPSA practice location: 30 years of family medicine training

Fam Med. 2009 Apr;41(4):255-61.


Background and objectives: Our objective was to assess practicing family physicians' confidence and participation in a range of community-related activities. Additionally, we assessed the strength of the relationship between the physicians' reported medical school and residency training in community-related activities and their current community activities, as well as whether they were practicing in an underserved location.

Methods: All 347 graduates of the University of Massachusetts Family Medicine Residency were surveyed about practice location and type, involvement and training in community work, confidence in community-related skills, and sociodemographic characteristics. Analyses were conducted by residency graduation decade (1976-1985, 1986-1995, and 1996-2005).

Results: Earlier graduates (19761985) were significantly more likely to engage in an array of community-related activities, but recent graduates (1996-2005) were more likely to report having been trained in these skills. There was a significant positive association between practice in an underserved area and confidence in issues related to sociocultural aspects of care. While recent graduates were more likely to locate both initial and current practices in a Health Professions Shortage Area (HPSA), 20.6% of all graduates reported an initial practice in a HPSA.

Conclusions: While family physician involvement in community-related activities increases with years out of residency, a higher proportion of recent graduates report having learned community-related skills while in medical school. Physician relocation tends to be away from HPSA toward non-HPSA sites.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Community Health Services / statistics & numerical data*
  • Family Practice / education*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Massachusetts
  • Medically Underserved Area*
  • Middle Aged
  • Physicians, Family / supply & distribution*
  • Professional Practice Location*
  • Workforce