Physician Workforce Partnerships in Rural American Indian/Alaska Native Communities and the Potential of Post-Graduate Fellowships
- Journal of Health Care for the Poor and Underserved
- Johns Hopkins University Press
- Volume 30, Number 2, May 2019
- pp. 442-455
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Rural American Indian and Alaska Native (AI/AN) communities face physician vacancy rates over 25%. A variety of programs aim to address those gaps, from early-life STEM initiatives for AI/ANs to physician loan repayment programs. However, unfilled clinical positions and underrepresentation of AI/AN physicians persist. We review existing workforce initiatives, then demonstrate that three recently developed clinical fellowship programs fill an important gap. The fellowships, led by faculty at large academic health centers, place fellows in clinical positions in rural AI/AN communities in partnership with tribal health systems and/or the Indian Health Service. In addition to providing clinical care, the fellowships seek to enhance health systems' capacity development through community-centered initiatives that include training and health promotion. Other academic health centers should consider working together with tribal communities to assess whether replication of the models could reduce local physician staffing gaps and health disparities.