The rural incentive: Why do Physician Assistants choose to work in rural medicine and what makes them stay?
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Introduction: Access to healthcare in rural and underserved communities has been a longstanding concern in the Manitoba healthcare system. One way to help alleviate this shortage may be the use of physician assistants in rural communities. Currently 24% of University of Manitoba MPAS graduates practice in rural locations. Objective: The purpose of this review was to identify the benefits and difficulties of physician assistant practice in rural locations in order to understand how rural communities in Manitoba can maximize the recruitment and retention of physician assistants. Methods: A comprehensive review of online databases Embase, PubMed, Google Scholar and Medline for survey and questionnaire based studies of physician assistants. Five American articles were identified and analyzed. Results: Rural physician assistants identified increased autonomy, wider scope of practice and good supervising physician relationships as reasons why they choose rural practice. Community factors such as recreational and cultural amenities, desire for rural living and working in an underserved community were also influential. Increased workload, long hours and salary were identified as difficulties. Conclusion: Rural health employers in Manitoba looking to recruit physician assistants should highlight the benefits of working rurally such as more autonomy and more varied job duties as well as the community specific amenities and attractions. Employers should also address the difficulties such as workload and hours in order to increase retention in the long run.