Physician workforce retention in rural areas is a vital part of the health and well-being of a rural community, which is why the COPIC Medical Foundation has partnered with the Colorado Rural Health Center and the University of Denver to provide funding for a study that identifies correlations between rural physician retention and the level of community integration. The project will assess the perceived value in rural physicians’ community engagement skills in relation to long-term retention of physicians in rural Colorado communities. Twelve rural Colorado communities are being invited to participate in the study. Initial results should be available in early 2014.
Enhanced community engagement skills improve the ability of the physician, and his or her family, to relate within a small, close knit rural community as home, while increasing the physician’s confidence and ability to work within a community to address the needs of the community outside of the medical practice. Data obtained will be used to create a curriculum in community engagement in the Healthcare Leadership program at the University of Denver and to supplement the rural track medical student curriculum at the University of Colorado.
“The knowledge gained from the study will be collated into a final report which we will share with the rural communities. Our goal is to provide information and opportunity that prepares students to engage in rural communities, assists practicing physicians in becoming more engaged, and assists the communities in finding ways to facilitate engagement,” said Dr. Irene Frederick, physician and principle investigator of the study as well as Academic Director, Healthcare Leadership at the University of Denver. “Ultimately, we hope these changes will improve trust between physicians and communities, resulting in long term retention of the physician in the community.”