Blog | Monday, September 26, 2011

QD: News Every Day--Dermatologists head to Sun Belt to practice

Dermatologists spend their days telling patients to avoid the sun and their careers striving to practice in it. They're leaving the Midwest and mountain states to practice in the southern and western U.S.

To evaluate the migration patterns of dermatologists from residency to clinical practice, researchers reviewed data from the American Academy of Dermatology's membership database. They looked at 7,067 dermatology residents who completed training before 2005 and were actively practicing in 2009. Results appeared at the September issue of the Archives of Dermatology.

Most graduates from Middle Atlantic and Pacific census divisions relocated within 100 miles of their residency. But residents from the Mountain census division and the Midwestern and Southern regions were substantially less likely to stay put. The Midwest retained the lowest proportion of its trainees (51%) and the South and West experienced the largest influx of residents who'd graduated from the Midwest and the Northeast.

Dermatologists certainly aren't the only specialists to flock to the most desirable locations, and it's not the only specialty that creates a shortage of care when it happens. The authors acknowledged that it's tough to suss out an individual's reasons for traveling long distances to practice. After all, who knows who is returning to the family homestead after a long time away, or is following a spouse somewhere relevant?

Still, the authors concluded, "As the field of dermatology continues to struggle with a maldistribution of its workforce, the association between training location and practice location is highly variable. However, certain regions, and particularly certain training programs, have much more consistent graduate migration patterns, with some far more likely to produce a widespread diaspora and others more likely to populate nearby communities."