The geographic and temporal patterns of residency-trained family physicians: University of Washington Family Practice Residency Network

J Am Board Fam Pract. 1996 Mar-Apr;9(2):100-8.


Background: There is a clear national mandate to increase the proportion of generalist physicians within the medical community and to increase their numbers within rural and underserved urban locations. Little is known, however, about the geographic and temporal career patterns of family physicians or about how these patterns differ by sex and graduation cohort.

Methods: Using information from a follow-up survey of the University of Washington Family Practice Residency Network, we analyzed the characteristics of 358 graduate physicians and their 493 practices, including data on geographic practice locations.

Results: Two thirds of graduates began their practices in urban locations, and one third initially settled in rural communities. Female graduates were much less likely than their male peers to choose rural practice locations. Few physicians left practices after they had practiced in them for 5 or 6 years. The majority of graduates were still in the practice where they started as long as 18 years earlier.

Conclusions: The most important career decision made by the graduate of a family medicine residency involves practice location. Because women are less likely to practice in rural areas, the increasing proportion of women graduating from family practice residencies might presage shortages of rural physicians in the future.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Career Choice
  • Family Practice / education
  • Family Practice / trends*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Internship and Residency
  • Male
  • Physicians, Family / supply & distribution
  • Practice Patterns, Physicians' / trends*
  • Professional Practice Location / trends*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Washington