OU-COM first in
state for producing rural physicians
Study ranks Ohio
University College of Osteopathic Medicine 11th
University College of Osteopathic Medicine (OU-COM) was ranked as
one of the top U.S. medical schools for graduating physicians who
choose to practice in rural areas.
In the study,
published in the April issue of Academic Medicine, OU-COM
tied for 11th place among all medical schools in the
country granting M.D. or D.O. degrees. The greatest percentages of
OU-COM alumni practicing in rural areas graduated between 1988 and
According to the
study, about 21 percent of OU-COM alumni were providing medical
services in rural areas during 2005, the year the data was
shows that OU-COM is the number one medical school in Ohio producing
physicians who work in rural areas,” said Dean Jack Brose, D.O. “We
are fulfilling our mission of producing not only primary care
physicians, who are the most-needed physicians across the country,
but also physicians who practice in areas where they are needed the
written by a team from the University of Washington (UW) School of
Medicine in Seattle, examined the training of the U.S. rural
physician workforce to better understand the disparities between
numbers of rural and urban physicians.
A previous study
published in the New England Journal of Medicine in 1992
identified the allopathic medical schools that produced the most
rural physicians. The 1992 study did not include colleges of
osteopathic medicine, but it did find that a small subset of the
nation’s medical schools produced the majority of rural physicians.
The UW study
found that six of the top 16 colleges – two tied in fourth place and
three, including OU-COM, tied at 11th – were colleges of
osteopathic medicine. The West Virginia School of Osteopathic
Medicine ranked number one with 41 percent.
schools that produced the highest percentage of rural physicians
placed between 21 and 36 percent of their graduates in rural areas,”
the UW authors reported. “However, several D.O. degree-granting
schools were identified that contributed relatively high percentages
of rural physicians. Osteopathic physicians are significantly more
likely to enter rural practice.”
The UW study
showed that 18 percent of all osteopathic medical school graduates
from the years surveyed practiced in rural areas, compared to 11
percent of graduates from allopathic medical schools.
physicians who practiced in rural areas, nearly 42 percent practiced
in the primary care fields of family medicine, internal medicine and
OU-COM’s more recent statistics, of the college’s 2,565 total
graduates, 44 percent work in rural and underserved communities of
fewer than 50,000 residents. About 11 percent of the total number of
graduates from the college practice in Appalachia Ohio.
Approximately 54 percent of the college’s graduates serve as primary
care providers. Of those, 37 percent practice in family medicine,
and 16 percent are currently either in internal medicine or
Simpson, D.O., chairman of OU-COM’s Department of Family Medicine,
noted that the college places great emphasis on family medicine and
its important role and need in rural areas. “Our dean is a strong
supporter of family medicine. With his help and support, the college
has encouraged early rural experience and insists that all third and
fourth year students have an extended family medicine experience,”
Brose noted that
those figures reflect the success of the college in meeting its
mission, mandated by the Ohio General Assembly, to serve the health
needs of people within the Appalachian region and other underserved
populations, and to encourage the practice of family medicine.
family medicine and service in rural and underserved areas,” Simpson
said. “The admission committee actively recruits individuals from
rural areas that are more likely to return to rural areas.”
The study also
found that medical school graduates who enter a residency in a rural
area are more likely to remain in a rural area to practice, and that
more women than men practice in rural areas.
proportion of female rural physicians is more likely attributable to
the increasing number of female medical school graduates coupled
with a decline in the percentage of male physicians entering rural
practice,” the report’s authors stated.
statistics bear out this claim – during the past four years, the
percentage of women entering the college has averaged 53.5 percent.
“Which medical schools produce rural physicians? A 15-year update,”
authored by Frederick Chen, M.D., M.P.H.; Meredith Fordyce, Ph.D.;
Steve Andes, Ph.D.; and Gary Hart, Ph.D., appears in the April issue
of Academic Medicine, vol. 85, no. 4.
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