New Practice Set-up of Family Practitioners in Rural Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania – a Qualitative Study

DOI: 10.3238/zfa.2014.0158-0164

german translation / full article

Anja Wollny, Barbara Kreiser, Juliane Riedel, Silke Völker, Celia Richter, Wolfgang Himmel, Jean-Fran, ois Chenot, Christin Löffler

Keywords: Family Physicians Supply and Distribution of Physicians Career Choice Attitude of Health Personnel Decision Making Rural Health Services

Background: Rural and structurally weak regions increasingly witness a shortage of Family Practitioners (FPs). This study focuses on individual reasons and motivations of FPs to set up a practice in rural areas of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, as well as on the experiences they have gained.

Methods: Narrative interviews were conducted with 20 FPs who set up a practice in rural Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania. Interviewee selection was based on theoretical sampling. All interviews were recorded and transcribed verbatim. For coding and analysis Grounded Theory was used.

Results: Reasons and motives for practice set-up of FPs as known from previous research are also present in the interviews: For example the labour situation in hospitals that is perceived as burdensome as well as a comparatively low level of autonomy. From the interview material further factors emerge that are particularly relevant for setting up a FP practice in rural areas and which have been hardly described in research so far. FPs emphasized that they perceive their work in rural areas as needed, and that they experience a real and continuous doctor-patient relationship. Also, they appreciate challenges related to the variety of reasons for doctor-patient consultations in primary care as well as the treatment of patients from young to old.

Discussion: Despite opposing trends (e.g. a comparatively high number of multimorbid patients and a comparatively low number of specialists), the study provides evidence that deciding for setting up as a FP in rural areas as well as related job experiences are largely perceived as positive. The high job satisfaction of FPs working in rural areas needs to be communicated to students in the medical faculties as well as to physicians completing their training as medical specialist in General Practice.

(State: 12.05.2015)

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