Why Do Medical Residents Stay in Massachusetts – Or Leave?

Second in a series of five articles on the 2011 MMS Physician Workforce Study

When the MMS began publishing its physician workforce studies a decade ago, one of the more unsettling findings was the broad reluctance of medical residents to start their careers in Massachusetts. To be sure, there wouldn’t be room for all residents training in Massachusetts to work here, but many believed that more residents should want to stay after completing their training.

That phenomenon was observed again in our 10th annual workforce study released last month. About 40 percent of residents said they had already accepted a position outside Massachusetts, or didn’t plan to stay. Sixty percent said they planned to stay here, compared to 52% in the 2005 survey.

That’s a little higher than six years ago. Is that reason to be optimistic? Given the size of the sample, it may be a stretch to call it a trend, let alone a statistically significant difference.

What’s affecting their decision? The survey asked residents to rank the favorability of professional and personal issued that factored into their decision of where to practice.

Professional factors ranked favorably

Intellectual stimulation: 98%
Professional development: 95%
Research opportunities: 94%
Diverse patient demographics: 74%
Clinical opportunities: 72%
Practice environment: 60%
On call schedule/work hours: 47%
Malpractice premiums: 13%

Personal factors ranked favorably

Local amenities: 89%
Geographic location: 77%
Children’s educational opportunities: 70%
Partner’s job: 63%
Work/family balance: 48%
Proximity to extended family: 43%
Tax environment in Massachusetts: 20%
Salary level: 19%
Salary arrangement: 15%
Cost of living: 10%
Housing costs: 8%

Clearly, family ties matter to those who stay. What can we do to keep those who don’t have family nearby? The results above may provide some insight.

Read the workforce study at www.massmed.org/workforce

Coming tomorrow: Physicians’ Fear of Being Sued is Pervasive. Read the other posts in this series here.

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