Filling the Gaps: Factors that predict PA students' interest in practicing in medically underserved areas.
AAPA ePoster library. Lessard D. 05/17/17; 180474; 10
Donovan Lessard
Donovan Lessard
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Abstract
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Individuals' health outcomes are strongly influenced by the environments in which they are embedded. Communities with fewer resources and less access to quality care, or medically underserved areas (MUAs), are at heightened risk for adverse health outcomes including greater chronic disease prevalence and shortened life expectancies (CDC, 2013). In some cases, these health disparities are widening in part because of a critical shortage of primary care providers in MUAs (NRHA, 2008). Physician assistants (PAs) are uniquely situated to help fill these primary care gaps in MUAs because of their generalist training and primary care orientation. Understanding the factors that lead PAs to practice in MUAs is therefore integral to efforts to provide high-quality care and combat health disparities in these communities. This study aims to identify factors that longitudinally predict PA students' interest in providing much-needed care in MUAs. Participants were 782 first-year students (77.4% female, 80.4% White, Mage=26.9 years, SDage=5.7) from 157 PA programs. Students completed online surveys at two time points: when they first matriculated into their programs in 2015 and again in the spring of 2016. On average, students had been enrolled for 7.6 months (SD=2.3) at Wave 2. At Wave 1, students provided key demographic information (i.e., gender, race, and age). Of particular interest, students also reported the percentage of their pre-PA educations that their families had paid for, which may reflect their family's socioeconomic status and which we refer to as family financial help, as well as their geographic origin (i.e., the type of environment in which they had primarily lived). At both waves, students reported on how likely they were to choose to work in an MUA after graduation (1=Very unlikely to 5=Very likely). Using multiple regression, we ran two models testing whether students' family financial help and geographic origins influenced their Wave 2 interest in practicing in an MUA, controlling for their Wave 1 interest. In the geographic origins analyses, we focused on students from rural and suburban environments, who were by far the largest subgroups (ns=145 and 365, respectively). All analyses controlled for students' gender, race, and age at matriculation. Students who received more family financial help, and who may therefore have more affluent backgrounds, were less interested in practicing in MUAs over time, β=-.11, p=.011. Students from rural environ...
Individuals' health outcomes are strongly influenced by the environments in which they are embedded. Communities with fewer resources and less access to quality care, or medically underserved areas (MUAs), are at heightened risk for adverse health outcomes including greater chronic disease prevalence and shortened life expectancies (CDC, 2013). In some cases, these health disparities are widening in part because of a critical shortage of primary care providers in MUAs (NRHA, 2008). Physician assistants (PAs) are uniquely situated to help fill these primary care gaps in MUAs because of their generalist training and primary care orientation. Understanding the factors that lead PAs to practice in MUAs is therefore integral to efforts to provide high-quality care and combat health disparities in these communities. This study aims to identify factors that longitudinally predict PA students' interest in providing much-needed care in MUAs. Participants were 782 first-year students (77.4% female, 80.4% White, Mage=26.9 years, SDage=5.7) from 157 PA programs. Students completed online surveys at two time points: when they first matriculated into their programs in 2015 and again in the spring of 2016. On average, students had been enrolled for 7.6 months (SD=2.3) at Wave 2. At Wave 1, students provided key demographic information (i.e., gender, race, and age). Of particular interest, students also reported the percentage of their pre-PA educations that their families had paid for, which may reflect their family's socioeconomic status and which we refer to as family financial help, as well as their geographic origin (i.e., the type of environment in which they had primarily lived). At both waves, students reported on how likely they were to choose to work in an MUA after graduation (1=Very unlikely to 5=Very likely). Using multiple regression, we ran two models testing whether students' family financial help and geographic origins influenced their Wave 2 interest in practicing in an MUA, controlling for their Wave 1 interest. In the geographic origins analyses, we focused on students from rural and suburban environments, who were by far the largest subgroups (ns=145 and 365, respectively). All analyses controlled for students' gender, race, and age at matriculation. Students who received more family financial help, and who may therefore have more affluent backgrounds, were less interested in practicing in MUAs over time, β=-.11, p=.011. Students from rural environ...
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