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Majority of Physicians Do Not Practice in the State They Graduated Medical School

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October 12th, 2017

By 2030, it is estimated that the United States will lack between 40,800 and 104,900 physicians. Moreover, there is a maldistribution of physicians across and within states. To address these projected shortages, some states, depending on their current environment, could bolster their supply of physicians by increasing their existing medical school enrollment or building new medical schools. We used data from the Medicare Physician Compare database to examine state retention of their medical school graduates and how a variety of factors, such as physician age, specialty, and gender, were related to a physician’s likeliness of practicing in their medical school state. We also analyzed the relationship between state retention of physicians and number of physicians per capita. We found that on average, states retain 38 percent of their medical school graduates and physicians who pursue a non-primary care specialty are more likely to leave their medical school state. We also observed a significant negative correlation between state retention and number of physicians per capita. Additional medical schools may not sufficiently address some state’s physician shortage unless other measures are also pursued, such as increasing residency positions. As states assess their physician supply and medical school graduate retention, there is also an opportunity for states to incorporate more value-based care training into the curriculum of both their existing and new medical schools. States may also consider encouraging the use of physician and non-physician care teams as an additional strategy to addressing their primary care physician shortage.

Percent of Physicians Trained in State Who Practice in State

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