Early predictors of physicians' practice in medically underserved communities: a 12-year follow-up study of University of New Mexico School of Medicine graduates.
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Substantial numbers of people are medically underserved because of rural residence and/or economic circumstances. The mission of many medical schools is service to this group, so the ability to identify applicants likely to serve this population is valuable.In 2009, the authors asked graduates from their medical school, class of 1997 and forward, if they practiced in a medically underserved community in the past year. Variables obtained from medical school applications and scores from a survey of attitudes toward the underserved measured at matriculation were analyzed using logistic regression.Of 244 practitioners, 35% reported working in an underserved community. Rural background, older age (25+) at matriculation, and being a member of an underrepresented minority were independent, statistically significant predictors of practice in an underserved community.Schools wanting to increase the number of practitioners caring for the underserved could consider older as well as rural and minority applicants.