When it comes to deciding where a graduating physician will ultimately practice, a variety of factors come into play. Whether they decide to relocate closer to family, stay where they are, or move to an area they otherwise know and love, most physicians will find themselves relocating at least twice during their careers. But is there a way to tell where a physician is likely to choose to practice?

 

Research has shown that one of the best predictors of where a physician will ultimately practice is the location of their medical school and training program. This strong correlation between medical education location and a state’s ability to retain their physicians once they graduate is itself influences by the three factors below.

 

 

Undergraduate vs Graduate Medical Education

While both are fairly strong predictors of final practice location, residency location seems to have a slightly stronger pull than medical school. With over 38% of physicians choosing to practice where they completed medical school and over 47% choosing to practice where they completed their residency and/or fellowship, both serve as fairly good indicators of where a physician will ultimately choose to practice. Additionally, if the medical school attended is a public university, the retention rate shoots up to over 46% for medical school retention. 

 

 

Location Matters

Where your medical school or training program is located also plays a large role in how likely a physician is to stay in that state to practice. The south and west are much better at holding on to their physicians after graduation, with 6 of the 10 states with the highest retention rates for both undergraduate and graduate medical education were in the south and west. This is likely due to physicians enjoying the more temperate climate and avoidance of several years of cold winters.

 

 

Continuity

Perhaps the strongest correlation between medical education and final practice location occurs when the physician attended both medical school as well as residency and/or fellowship in the same state. In these cases, the state was able to retain two thirds of their graduating physicians (66.6%).

 

 

Key Take Aways:

 

  • When creating their physician recruitment strategy, recruiters should primarily target physicians who have spent time in their state completing their medical training
  • Candidates are more likely to practice in locations they are familiar with – medical education being one of the main ways they gain exposure to certain communities
  • Communities in warmer climates are more attractive to many physicians
  • As physicians prefer to stay in states where they’ve gone to medical school or completed their training, rural communities may want to increase the number of programs in their states and increase the number of physicians that rotate through their communities