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J Health Care Poor Underserved. 2011 Aug;22(3):817-35. doi: 10.1353/hpu.2011.0071.

Recruitment and retention of primary care physicians at community health centers: a survey of Massachusetts physicians.

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  • 1Center for Health Policy and Research, University of Massachusetts Medical School, Shrewsbury, MA 01545, USA.


As the backbone of the safety-net system, community health centers (CHCs) provide access to essential services, yet contend with high provider turnover. Using an online survey, primary care physicians (PCPs) at 62 Massachusetts League of Community Health Centers member sites were queried about recruitment and retention factors. Nearly 300 (n=294) PCPs representing 46 CHCs completed the survey. Female physicians, those practicing in the greater Boston area, and those in practice for 10 or more years reported a higher likelihood of remaining in a CHC. Additional factors included: residency preparedness to practice in CHCs; the interview process; and satisfaction with the CHC's mission, patient diversity and current compensation. With the expansion of CHCs, attention must be paid to the PCP workforce. These survey results can inform advocates, leaders, policymakers, and educators regarding workforce initiatives and practice redesign. Once a commitment is made to caring for CHC patients, if this commitment is sustained, retention is good.

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