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J Clin Psychol. 2009 Jul;65(7):723-35. doi: 10.1002/jclp.20581.

If we build it, they might come: an empirical investigation of supply and demand in the recruitment of rural psychologists.

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  • 1Department of Psychology, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA 19104-6196, USA.


Past research has established that practicing doctoral level psychologists tend to cluster in metropolitan areas, leaving the rural population gravely underserved. Discussions of this problem have assumed that psychologists hold negative attitudes toward rural work for many reasons, leading to a supply shortage. The present study attempts to examine the accuracy of this hypothesis by examining attitudes of current doctoral students in clinical psychology. Eight hundred eighty-four students responded to an online survey. Results indicate that attitudes toward rural practice were not overwhelmingly negative as predicted. Additionally, a significant number of respondents endorsed positive attitudes toward rural practice. A follow-up study was conducted to determine if the shortage of rural psychologists might be attributed to a lack of demand from rural employers. A search of three popular job resources revealed that few rural jobs were advertised, indicating weak demand for psychologists in rural areas. Results indicate that efforts to recruit psychologists to rural areas should be rethought, and increasing the visibility of available opportunities for psychologists should be made a priority.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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