Year of Publication

2023

College

Martin School of Public Policy and Administration

Date Available

8-8-2023

Degree Name

Master of Public Administration

Committee Chair

Dr. Karen Blumenschein

Executive Summary

Kentucky’s Appalachian counties have long been recognized as medically underserved areas, with access to care being limited by a shortage of healthcare professionals in the region. This issue, specifically as it pertains to primary care physicians, has been the focus of many programs hoping to improve access to care in these communities for many years. Is the ongoing effort to recruit and retain primary care physicians in Appalachian Kentucky counties effective? Hypotheses The mean number of people per physician in Appalachian Kentucky counties reported in 2013 is equal to the mean number of people per physician in Appalachian Kentucky counties reported in 2023. The mean number of people per physician in Appalachian Kentucky counties reported in 2013 is greater than the mean number of people per physician in Appalachian Kentucky counties reported in 2023. A two-sample t-test will compare the mean population per 1 physician in Appalachian Kentucky counties at two data points spanning over the past decade. The test will be evaluated at a significance level of .05. The two-sample t-test fails to reject the null hypothesis, reflecting that there has not been a significant change in the average population per 1 physician over the past decade. Kentucky’s 4 physician education programs are a highly valuable resource for the Appalachian region and consistently produce graduates who become Appalachian Kentucky resident physicians. Appalachian Kentucky communities and stakeholders should focus on bolstering efforts in selection, post-vocational training, and financial incentive programs. Continued research into the individual interventions in the region and their effectiveness on a more detailed level is also warranted. This project’s findings demonstrate some slight movement toward a lower regional average population-to-physician ratio, a measurable percentage of graduating physicians remaining in the region for their first years of practice, and the potential for Appalachian Kentucky to continue moving toward a more robust healthcare workforce in the future.

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

https://doi.org/10.13023/mpcap.2023.01

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