ALLIED HEALTH STUDENTS FROM RURAL COMMUNITIES IN SOUTHWEST MISSOURI: WHAT INFLUENCES THEIR DECISION TO STAY OR LEAVE AFTER GRADUATION?
Kramer, Elaine J.
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This research investigated where rural students seek employment after graduating from allied health programs at Ozarks Technical Community College (OTC) in southwest Missouri and what influenced their employment decisions. Literature suggested health care in rural communities was not always able to meet the needs of the rural citizens. Researcher-developed surveys were emailed to 2010-2015 graduates of all OTC allied health programs and to students enrolled in allied health programs during the Fall 2015 semester. Existing state department of education data were also analyzed. Data suggested that over 50% of OTC allied health students were from smaller communities throughout Missouri (N < 10,000). However, fewer than 12% of graduates returned to work in those same rural communities. Reasons for not returning to rural communities included higher salaries, better benefits, and more advancement opportunities were available in larger communities. Recommendations included programs should incorporate clinical rotations in rural areas.