An Investigation of the Influence of Current Public Health Policies in the United States on the Prevalence of Rural Health Professional Shortage Areas

Hayne Noh

Abstract


The overall healthcare professional shortage or maldistribution severely limits access to sufficient health care, affecting many Americans, particularly in rural areas. There is a range studies that agree that the health professional shortage is a pressing issue, but none that specifically evaluate the overall effectiveness and improvements to be made to government funded programs, such as loan repayment (LRPs) and scholarship programs (SPs) aimed at attracting physicians to these rural underserved areas. This study analyzes data from 18 peer-reviewed journals and articles about rural primary care Health Professional Shortage Areas (HPSAs), Title-VII funded schools, and rural primary health care. Although LRPs and SPs are both necessary and potentially effective programs to attracting primary care physicians to rural areas, these programs may be improved by lifting stringent contract policies, limiting the use of HPSAs in determining need, growing collaboration between state programs and national programs, increasing the overall allure of rural health care by early exposure to medical students through rural focused medical school curricula, and sending physicians to underserved areas in groups. This work reveals innovative steps these programs may take in order to provide a greater number of rural Americans access to proper healthcare.


Keywords


Rural Healthcare, Health Professional Shortage Areas (HPSA), Primary Care

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