Since 2008, residents’ preference for their future practice location has shifted from smaller cities and rural areas to large population centers, according to findings reported by physician recruitment firm Merritt Hawkins.

In a survey of residents who completed their training in 2014, 24% said that they wanted to practice in a community with a population of more than 1 million, compared with 6% in 2008, while 23% of residents chose the next-highest level of population – 500,001 to 1 million – compared with 15% in 2008, according to Merritt Hawkins.

As for the smaller communities, residents who wanted to practice in a area of 50,000 or fewer dropped from 17% in 2008 to 7% in 2014. Support for communities of 50,001-100,000 fell from 19% in 2008 to 10% in 2014, the company said. Only 1% of residents wanted to practice in a community of 10,000 people or fewer in 2014.

Residents’ reservations about practicing in rural areas more often are related to their “concerns about being on a clinical ‘island’ without specialty support, information technology, and other resources than they may be about the amenities of rural communities,” Merritt Hawkins said in its analysis of the 1,208 survey responses.


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