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Health Services Research & Development

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2007 HSR&D National Meeting Abstract

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National Meeting 2007

1034 — The Impact of VA's Intramural Research Program on Physician Recruitment and Retention

Hysong SJ (COE - Houston) , Best RG (Lockheed Martin Information Systems), Bollinger M (REAP - San Antonio)

The primary purpose of this research is to better understand the role of the VA’s intramural research program in attracting and retaining highly skilled physicians. To this end, we (1) developed a theoretical model based on research literature and key informant input and (2) designed and validated a psychometrically sound measure of the factors hypothesized to influence the role of VA research in recruitment and retention for potential inclusion in the next National Survey of VA researchers.

We began with a literature review of recruitment and retention with a targeted focus on physicians. Based on the review’s findings, we conducted semi-structured key informant interviews to both confirm and supplement the findings from the literature synthesis. 11 clinician researchers at two academically affiliated, research-oriented VAMCs participated. From these two data sources we developed an initial theoretical model of VA physician recruitment and retention. We then designed a survey instrument to assess the factors hypothesized in the model. 1284 physicians from VAMCs across the country responded to our online survey. Respondents were predominantly white (63%), male (73%), between 40-59 years of age (62%), representing various medical specialties and research service affiliations. The data were split equally into two samples: a development sample to obtain the initial factors (via factor analysis), and a holdout sample for validation purposes.

Six factors explained 57% of the variance in the development sample: 1) Satisfaction with research support; 2) Intellectual stimulation opportunities; 3) Perceived clinical support; 4) Satisfaction with compensation; 5) Colleagues; and 6) Community characteristics. Analyses on the holdout sample yielded nearly identical results. Preliminary validation analyses suggest these factors significantly predict years within VA, as well as several self-report recruitment and retention indicators.

Designing new or altering existing research programs and promoting an organizational environment emphasizing the factors captured with this model could persuade high quality physicians to join and remain in VA for longer tenures.

The present survey could help decision-makers identify the most important factors at their facilities, and use the results to guide future recruitment and retention initiatives. This could significantly enhance VA’s current and future workforce.

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