Multiple variable motivators involved in the recruitment of physicians for the Indian Health Service.
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Multiple variable motivators involved in the recruitment of physicians for the Indian Health Service.

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    Public Health Rep
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    Attracting physicians to serve in isolated areas, often with marginal facilities, support staff, and remuneration, has long been a problem of the Indian Health Service (IHS). Until recently the physician draft was instrumental in motivating physicians to accept such assignments. Realizing that this "negative incentive" would no longer operate when the draft ended as of July 1, 1973, in the fall of 1972 the IHS staff launched some major "positive" efforts to recruit physicians. The mass media and other communication techniques were used to try to sell U.S. physicians and medical students on what the Service could offer them in terms of adventure, challenge, personal fulfillment, idealism, and the opportunity to be part of a progressive, comprehensive health system. Such efforts assisted in recruiting 69 physicians to begin service in July 1973. These 69 were in addition to approximately 100 who had already been recruited from among persons who had expressed interest in joining the Indian Health Service or who had applied to it before inception of this major recruitment effort. As of July 1, 1973, however, the Service was still approximately 30 physicians short of filling 200 vacancies. In June and July of 1973, an evaluation was done to determine what had motivated the 169 physicians to join the Indian Health Service. They were asked an open ended question: What prompted you to seek employment with the Indian Health Service? Whether physicians listed personal, subjective motivators or recruitment techniques was of as much interest as the specific answers they gave. More than 75 percent (100 of 129) mentioned recruitment techniques, such as magazine advertisements, rather than personal motivating factors, such as challenge. Personal contact with a present or former IHS physician seemed to be especially influential in attracting physicians. The present state of the recruitment art does not provide the means to adequately identify, qualify, quantify, and rank the multiple motivators that prompt physicians to join a program such as that of the Indian Health Service; nor does it allow for meaningful, predetermined identification of a limited pool of physicians who would have a high probability of joining such a program. At present, the best recruitment strategy appears to be to saturate the entire physician "marketplace" stressing with a variety of techniques the positive aspects of IHS employment. Physicians then select themselves for such employment by exhibiting a more than casual interest in the Indian Health Service.
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