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September 23, 1992

Improving the Supply of Physicians in Rural Areas

Author Affiliations

From the Rural Physician Associate Program and the Department of Family Practice and Community Health, University of Minnesota Medical School, Minneapolis.

JAMA. 1992;268(12):1597-1598. doi:10.1001/jama.1992.03490120111039

Pathman et al1 are to be congratulated on their research of the comparative rural retention of National Health Service Corps (NHSC) physicians compared to non-NHSC physicians. There is a curious absence of significant documentation by the NHSC concerning retention of NHSC physicians compared to other rural physician programs and their success in retaining rural physicians.2-4

See also pp 1552 and 1559.

While I was director of the Rural Physician Associate Program (RPAP) for 20 years in Minnesota, I studied and experienced the reasons why medical students and physicians remain in or leave a rural community. The RPAP is a clinical clerkship during which third- and fourth-year medical students spend 9 to 12 months with a seasoned preceptor in a rural community.3 They return to the medical school for their senior year with a host of attitudes, behaviors, and skills unobtainable by their non-RPAP classmates in the urban