A shortage of healthcare professionals is considered to be a driving force behind access barriers in rural Canada. The use of Physician assistants (PAs) as healthcare providers in remote areas can help mitigate this shortage. There is currently no research available on rural Canadian PAs to assess factors that influence the choice to practice rurally. This study examined specific factors influencing currently practicing rural Canadian PAs to choose their rural practice. This study also assessed whether a rural upbringing or participating in a rural rotation positively related to choosing to practice medicine rurally.
This is a cross-sectional descriptive study conducted through an electronic survey. The primary outcomes of this study included examining the significance of 12 factors on the choice to practice rurally as well as whether completing a rural rotation or having a rural upbringing significantly correlated to rural practice.
The top three factors most significantly influencing a PA's decision to practice rurally were (1) increased level of autonomy, (2) type of practice, (3) scope of practice. There was a positive relationship between having a rural upbringing and practicing rurally (X2 (1, N = 61) = 30.47, p <.001). There was no relationship between completing a rural rotation and practicing rurally.
It concluded individuals are more likely to choose rural practice if they had a rural upbringing. Canadian PA schools wishing to increase recruitment and recruitment to rural services can use the above results. Prospective employers can also use the above results to help attract more PAs to rural opportunities.
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