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J Physician Assist Educ. 2012;23(1):28-32.

Factors that influence physician assistant program graduates to choose rural medicine practice.

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  • 1Southern Illinois University Physician Assistant Program, Carbondale, Illinois, USA.



A shortage of primary care, rural practitioners exists in the United States. The increasing number of physician assistants (PA) in the workforce could be an important resource in improving access to primary care services for rural patients, yet little is known about the specific factors influencing a PA to choose to practice rural medicine. The purpose of this study is to examine the factors that influence PA program graduates to choose rural medicine.


This descriptive study was conducted by electronic survey. Participants were recruited from the membership of the Texas Academy of Physician Assistants (TAPA). Main outcome measures were the correlations between rural clerkships, rural background, and rural practice. Participants were also queried regarding 16 additional factors that might influence practice choice.


A relationship exists between rural background and rural practice choice (chi2(4) = 16.08, P = .003). Correlation also was identified between completion of rural clerkships and rural practice choice (chi2(1) = 10.67, P= .001). Factors found to have the most influence on PAs to choose rural practice were (1) desire to serve the needs of the community; (2) type of practice; and (3) supervising physician characteristics.


PAs with a rural background and those that completed rural clerkships have a greater propensity toward rural practice after graduation. It is possible, for programs with an interest or a mission of increasing the number of their graduates who choose rural practice, that knowledge of factors that influence their graduates' practice choices may prove beneficial.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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