Movers and Stayers: What Birthplaces Can Teach Us About Rural Practice Choice Among Midwestern General Surgeons

Dorothy Hughes, Jessica A.R. Williams, Joanna Veazey Brooks

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Purpose: This study compares practicing rural Midwestern general surgeons born in urban areas to those born in rural areas to describe the association between birthplace and current practice location. Methods: The 2017 AMA MasterFile was used to study general surgeons in the Midwest Census Division. Surgeons were assigned to categories based on birthplace and current practice locations: urban-urban stayers, urban-rural movers, rural-rural stayers, and rural-urban movers. Urban and rural classifications corresponded to the metropolitan and nonmetropolitan definitions with Rural-Urban Continuum Codes (urban, RUCCs 1-3; rural, RUCCs 4-9). Bivariate tests and logistic regression were used to determine factors associated with rural practice choice. Findings: There were 3,070 general surgeons in the study population: 70.6% urban-urban stayers, 13.1% urban-rural movers, 10.7% rural-urban movers, and 5.7% rural-rural stayers. Rural areas netted 74 surgeons (327 rural-urban movers versus 401 urban-rural movers). Logistic regression results found different factors predicted rural practice among urban-born versus rural-born surgeons. Older urban-born surgeons were more likely to practice rurally, as were male surgeons, DOs, and those trained in less-urban residency programs. Among rural-born surgeons, more rural birthplaces and having trained at a less-urban residency were associated with practicing rurally. Conclusions: Recruiting urban-born surgeons to rural areas has proven successful in the Midwest; our findings show urban-born surgeons outnumber rural-born surgeons in rural communities. Given the ongoing need for surgeons in rural areas, urban-born surgeons should not be overlooked. Findings suggest educators and community leaders should expand less-urban training opportunities given their potential influence on all general surgeons.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)55-60
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Rural Health
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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