An Analysis of Factors Affecting Medical Students’ Choice to Practice Primary Care Medicine

April 4th, 2014 by webmaster

By: Barrett Hatches, Ph.D., Cohort 4

There is a general acknowledgement among researchers, health care professionals, policy makers and numerous other stakeholders that access to health care in the United States is not equitable for all individuals. Moreover, research has demonstrated a link between access to quality health care and positive health outcomes (Ferraro & Farmer, 2005). Research also indicates that access to primary care medicine is a vital aspect of good health (Rosenthal, 2008; Cardarelli & Chiapa, 2007; Ferrer, 2007). Nonetheless, millions of Americans have limited access to high quality medical care. This longstanding issue results from several interrelated characteristics of the health care delivery system: a) insufficient numbers of medical students choosing to practice primary cared medicine, b) large numbers of Americans without health insurance, c) large numbers of individuals being underinsured, d) misdistribution of physicians throughout the country, and e) health care financing/reimbursement policies.

Using a correlation research design, this study examined factors that affect student choice to practice primary care medicine and analyzed the relationship between student choice to practice primary care medicine, student values, and medical student demographics using the Schwartz’s Values Inventory (SVI). The sample consisted of 61 students that were currently enrolled in one of the oldest medical schools located in the southeastern region of the United States. The independent variables included student values, medical student’s demographics, and faculty values. The dependent variables were practice preference type and practice location.

The findings regarding medical students’ values indicate the power was the least important value for participants in this study, while conformity, self-direction, achievement, and benevolence were very important values. Of these values, medical students’ mean score indicated the benevolence was the value with the most importance. Results of Pearson’s r revealed statistically significant correlations between place of location and the value subscales of power and self-direction. Pearson’s r analysis indicated a statistically significant correlation between age and practice preference; gender and practice preference; hometown and practice location. The findings pertaining to faculty values indicated that power was the least important value for faculty participants in this study, while benevolence, self-direction and achievement are very important values. Of these values, faculty mean score revealed that benevolence was the value with the most importance. Regression analysis revealed that two values (security and universalism) significantly predicted medical students’ choice of practice location supporting previous research.

Posted in Student Research