Date of Award:


Document Type:


Degree Name:

Master of Science (MS)


Sociology, Social Work, and Anthropology

Committee Chair(s)

Sojung Lim


Sojung Lim


Gabriele Ciciurkaite


Guadalupe Marquez-Velarde


Millard County, Utah, rural and sparsely populated, continues to experience challenges in recruiting and retaining primary health care providers. My study addressed the lack of a rigorous and systemic analysis of this problem by collecting and analyzing data from a series of semi-structured interviews conducted between January and March 2019. These interviews were with nineteen of the twenty-four known health care providers who began practice in the county from the mid1980s to 2018, as well as with four administrators.

The study, taking advantage of this comprehensive analysis, provided a more extensive understanding of the root causes underlying the recruitment and retention shortcomings. Findings showed that decisions to stop practice in the county were not typically made for a single over-riding reason but occurred when the cumulative effect of negative experiences reached a tipping point, prompting the provider to seek another practice venue. Providers who left reached this tipping point in spite of most having a rural background.

The study recommended implementing a comprehensive and on-going support program aimed at addressing providers concerns. The stressors associated with rural health care practices need to be regularly assessed and resolved in a timely fashion.



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