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Original Research

Career expectancy of physicians active in patient care: evidence from Mississippi

Submitted: 19 November 2015
Accepted: 22 February 2016
Published: 12 May 2016

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Author(s) : Boydstun J, Cossman JS.

Citation: Boydstun J, Cossman JS.  Career expectancy of physicians active in patient care: evidence from Mississippi. Rural and Remote Health (Internet) 2016; 16: 3813. Available: (Accessed 24 October 2017)


Introduction:  Physician shortages in the USA, an issue that has been particularly challenging in Mississippi, have been a concern among health scholars and policy makers for several decades. Physician shortages hinder residents from easily obtaining routine care, potentially magnifying health disparities. This study examines physician career life expectancy, or how long physicians typically practice, in Mississippi.
Methods:  Data on Mississippi’s physician population actively involved between 2007 and 2011 were obtained from the Mississippi State Board of Medical Licensure. Abridged career life tables were constructed for all Mississippi physicians and population subgroups based on practice specialty, gender, race, urban–rural practice, and health professional shortage area status.
Results:  Upon entry into practice in Mississippi, physicians practiced for about 14.4 years. Rural physicians, primary care physicians, minority physicians, physicians practicing in health professional shortage areas, and men had the longest career expectancies. Physicians who are women or who practice in urban counties were substantially more likely to exit practice compared to all other subgroups examined. The odds of remaining in practice were significantly different based on gender, race, urban–rural practice county, and health professional shortage area status.
Conclusions:  The first 5 years of practice are the most critical regarding retention for all physicians, regardless of practice specialty, gender, race, urban–rural status, or health professional shortage area status.

Key words: applied demography, health policy, physician workforce, population health, USA.

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