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Perspectives on Training and Working in the VHA: Implications for Primary Care Physician Recruitment and Retention.

Moldestad M, Sayre G, Rinne S, Kaboli PJ, Reddy A, Sanders KM, Mao J, Henrikson NB, Sterling R, Nelson KM, Wong ES. Perspectives on Training and Working in the VHA: Implications for Primary Care Physician Recruitment and Retention. Academic medicine : journal of the Association of American Medical Colleges. 2022 Feb 8.

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Abstract:

PURPOSE: The primary care physician shortage in the United States presents significant challenges for health systems seeking to maintain a sufficient primary care workforce. Perspectives on training or working in primary care in the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) may yield insights into strategic recruitment to make the VHA and other health systems more attractive to primary care physicians. The authors sought to understand the experiences of resident and staff physicians with limited tenure within VHA primary care to identify factors to guide health systems in improving recruitment and retention. METHOD: This qualitative exploratory study was conducted from June 2018 to October 2019 with 24 internal medicine residents and 30 staff physicians in VHA primary care. Heterogeneity was ensured by sampling for geographical region, rurality, and gender within each cohort. The authors conducted semistructured interviews to ascertain perspectives on training and employment preferences at VHA and non-VHA sites. Combined content analysis was used to generate findings. RESULTS: The authors identified 4 key themes, centered around shared values and the VHA's mission-driven culture: the VHA "community" was perceived as unique and a major contributor to job satisfaction; facility-level leadership support was important to perceptions of workplace culture around harassment; the VHA primary care delivery model allowed residents and staff physicians to get patients needed care but did not always live up to its potential; and VHA employment was better than expected, but the process of getting hired was a challenge. CONCLUSIONS: Mission and workplace culture may serve important roles in the desirability of health systems for prospective physicians and the job satisfaction of physicians who work in these systems. Physician recruitment efforts based on these attributes may yield the most success in maintaining a sufficient physician workforce.





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