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Original Research

One program, multiple training sites: does site of family medicine training influence professional practice location?

Submitted: 16 January 2013
Revised: 5 June 2013
Accepted: 11 June 2013
Published: 13 December 2013

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Author(s) : Jamieson JL, Kernahan J, Calam B, Sivertz (the late) KS.

Jean JamiesonBetty CalamKristin Sivertz (the late)

Citation: Jamieson JL, Kernahan J, Calam B, Sivertz (the late) KS.  One program, multiple training sites: does site of family medicine training influence professional practice location? Rural and Remote Health (Internet) 2013; 13: 2496. Available: (Accessed 20 October 2017)


Introduction:  Numerous strategies have been suggested to increase recruitment of family physicians to rural communities and smaller regional centers. One approach has been to implement distributed postgraduate education programs where trainees spend substantial time in such communities. The purpose of the current study was to compare the eventual practice location of family physicians who undertook their postgraduate training through a single university but who were based in either metropolitan or distributed, non-metropolitan communities.
Methods:  Since 1998, the Department of Family Practice at the University of British Columbia in Canada has conducted an annual survey of its residents at 2, 5, and 10 years after completion of training. The authors received Ethics Board approval to use this anonymized data to identify personal and educational factors that predict future practice location.
Results:  The overall response rate was 45%. At 2 years (N=222), residents trained in distributed sites were 15 times more likely to enter practice in rural communities, small towns and regional centers than those who trained in metropolitan teaching centers. This was even more predictive for retention in non-urban practice sites. Among the subgroup of physicians who remained in a single practice location for more than a year preceding the survey, those who trained in smaller sites were 36 times more likely to choose a rural or regional practice setting. While the vast majority of those trained in metropolitan sites chose an urban practice location, a subgroup of those with some rural upbringing were more likely to practice in rural or regional settings. Trainees from distributed sites considered themselves more prepared for practice regardless of ultimate practice location.
Conclusions:  Participation in a distributed postgraduate family medicine training site is an important predictor of a non-urban practice location. This effect persists for 10 years after completion of training and is independent of other predictors of non-urban practice including gender, rural upbringing, and rural undergraduate training. It is hypothesized that this is due not only to a curriculum that supports preparedness for this type of practice but also to opportunities to develop personal and professional roots in these communities.

Key words: Canada, distributed training, family medicine, postgraduate medical education, professional practice location.

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