Insights for rural health care provider retention : a quantitative survey analysis
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Due to rural health disparities and an uneven distribution of health providers across the rural urban continuum, retaining the existing rural health care provider workforce may be an important strategy to maintain existing rural health care provision. While a large body of literature addresses how to recruit health care providers to rural areas, less is known about how to retain these providers. Even less literature has focused on the role of rural communities in health care provider retention. In this thesis, I examine the role of provider background and familial characteristics, workplace characteristics, and community characteristics that may impact a provider's likelihood to consider leaving a rural community. I use data from a survey of over 900 rural health care providers across nine states and a probit model to estimate the impact of these characteristics on a provider's propensity to consider leaving. I find that establishing social ties and integrating within the community through volunteering reduces providers' likelihood to consider leaving by 10 percent. Additionally, providers who engage in entrepreneurship by investing in part or all of their practice are 12 percent less likely to consider leaving, all else being equal. I also find that having unacceptable on-call responsibilities increases a provider's likelihood to consider leaving by 17 percent. This thesis contributes to the existing literature by estimating the effects of work-life balance, entrepreneurship, and the role of family and personal integration on provider retention. Furthermore, it emphasizes the role of communities in provider retention. These results offer insights to rural communities and decision-makers seeking to identify how to maintain their existing rural health care workforce.