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Dermatology Online Journal

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Demographic and medical school characteristics associated with urban versus rural dermatology practice: A national cross-sectional study


There are significant disparities in access to dermatologists in rural areas relative to urban areas. We examined the associations between demographic and medical school characteristics and entry into dermatology practice in urban versus rural counties. All dermatologists who graduated from U.S. allopathic or osteopathic medical schools in the 2020 Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services Physician Compare Database were assessed. Dermatology practice locations were coded as metropolitan or non-metropolitan according to the Rural-Urban Continuum Codes. Of 10,076 dermatologists, 543 (5.4%) practiced in non-metropolitan counties. Male gender (odds ratio [OR] 1.48, 95% CI 1.23-1.77), public medical school attendance (OR 1.94, 95% CI 1.61-2.34), DO degree (OR 1.84, 95% CI 1.32-2.51), medical school location in a non-metropolitan county (OR 5.41, 95% CI 3.66-7.84), and medical school rural track program (OR 1.57, 95% CI 1.07-2.26) were associated with higher odds of non-metropolitan dermatology practice. Our findings highlight that male gender, graduation from a non-metropolitan or public medical school, DO degree, and rural tracks are associated with higher likelihood of non-metropolitan dermatology practice. These results can inform efforts within the field of dermatology to strengthen the rural dermatologist workforce and suggest that rural educational experiences during medical school may increase recruitment of rural dermatologists.

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