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Does Quality of Care Affect Family Medicine Job Choices?


You are a doctor looking at available family medicine jobs in anticipation of completing your residency. You are looking at full-time, permanent placement as well as locum opportunities across the country. Here’s a question: does the quality of care in specific regions of the country affect your job search? Would you take or turn down a job based on your perception of the quality of care?

Both questions are legitimate given new state rankings just issued by WalletHub. The rankings are based on a 100-point system that looked at 30 metrics divided into three categories:

  • Health and access to healthcare;
  • Nutrition, physical activity, and obesity; and
  • Oral health.

The first of the three categories counted the most, making up 55% of the total points. The second and third categories came in at 40% and 5% respectively. This break down makes it clear that the survey was targeting access to healthcare services and how people were using those services, based on lifestyle metrics.

Accessibility to Healthcare Services

Family medicine jobs are plentiful; there is no doubt about that. What new doctors may want to know before taking a particular job is this: how easily his or her family medicine services will be accessed by the local community. This may not necessarily be an issue in large, urban areas where everything is tightly compacted and people have public transportation options in addition to their own cars. It may be a problem in rural areas.

Interestingly enough, the Northeast scored very highly in the Wallet Hub rankings. Vermont ranked number one, and a host of other states made the top 10: New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts, and New Hampshire. The states at the bottom of the list were more rural than metropolitan. They included Nevada, Louisiana, Texas, and Mississippi.

Accessibility to healthcare services is always an issue for both patients and doctors in a given geographic area. If you could increase accessibility by taking a job in a rural location, would you? If you could work as a locum focusing mainly on rural assignments, would such an opportunity appeal to you?

Patient Lifestyles Based on Accessibility

The second category of the WalletHub ranking is even more intriguing. Past studies have shown that accessibility affects patient outcomes, with less healthy people either having limited access to healthcare services or deliberately choosing not to access them.

Once again, the question of taking a family medicine job based on accessibility comes into play. It could be that a particular job remaining vacant is having a negative impact on a local community via lack of access to services. By the same token though, another job could offer access to a variety of potential patients who just do not take advantage of it.

Accessibility and outcomes translate into having to decide what kind of family medicine job to take. You might be the kind of person who is committed to working with inner-city, disadvantaged people where access to healthcare is limited by financial restraints. The perfect job for you might just be a public health clinic offering free or reduced-cost care.

On the other hand, you might be the perfect candidate to take a family medicine job in farm country. You may have grown up in a small town where agriculture plays a big role in daily life, and you really want to return as a way to give back. In either case, the decision to take a job in order to provide access to a core group of patients can make a big difference to all concerned.

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