Assessing Community Health Center (CHC) Assets and Capabilities for Recruiting Physicians: The CHC Community Apgar Questionnaire

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Introduction: Recent trends suggest that community health centers (CHCs) may experience a shortage of qualified physicians required to meet current and future demand. The purpose of this study was to develop an evaluation instrument, the CHC Community Apgar Questionnaire (CHC CAQ) for Idaho CHCs to use in physician recruitment.

Methods: The instrument was developed based on the Critical Access Hospital Community Apgar Questionnaire (CAH CAQ). The CHC CAQ was customized for CHC use and 12 new factors were identified for substitution in the CHC instrument. All 13 CHCs in Idaho participated in this study. One site was chosen per CHC if the CHC had multiple service locations. In each community, the administrator of the CHC and the physician with recruiting responsibilities participated individually in a structured interview.

Results: A total of 11 physicians and 11 administrators participated in the study. Differences were found across and within classes of factors associated with success in physician recruitment. Alpha communities, those historically having more success in physician recruitment, scored higher on CAQ metrics than less successful beta communities. No material differences were noted across physician and administrator ratings. Cumulative mean Community Apgar scores (CHC CAQ) were mostly higher in alpha communities.

Conclusion: The CHC CAQ, like the CAH CAQ, seems to discriminate between communities with differing assets and capabilities based on historical community-specific workforce trends. This assessment may suggest which factors are most important for a community to address with limited available resources and which factors are useful in marketing their CHC to prospective physicians.

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