Positive physician experience in the Pediatric AIDS Corps

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1. Researchers found that 100% of Pediatric AIDS Corps (PAC) physicians who completed an online survey were happy with their decision to join the PAC and 99% would recommend the experience to a colleague.

2. Half of respondents continued to work with patients in resource-limited areas after completing their time with the PAC, and 87% of those surveyed indicated that PAC work impacted their subsequent career choice.

Study Rundown: The Baylor College of Medicine International AIDS Initiative formed the Pediatric AIDS Corps (PAC) in 2003 to meet the growing need for appropriate HIV/AIDS-related care worldwide. The PAC was designed to remedy physician shortage in areas impacted by HIV/AIDS and also established training programs to educate local providers about pediatric HIV/AIDS care. Physicians working for the PAC commit to placements of ≥1 year in length and loan repayment is part of their remuneration. This study evaluated the experience of 111 PAC physicians employed between 2006 and 2011. All survey respondents reported being happy with their decision to have been a PAC physician (100%). Half of PAC physicians continued to work with resource-limited populations both internationally and domestically. In addition, 30% of PAC physicians became debt-free through loan repayment during their employment. Although this study may be biased due to its reliance on voluntary survey response, these results indicate that the PAC provides a successful model for similar long-term international physician placement programs.

Click to read the study, published today in Pediatrics

Relevant Reading: The Pediatric AIDS Corps: responding to the African HIV/AIDS health professional resource crisis

Study Author, Dr. Gordon E. Schutze, M.D., F.A.A.P, talks to 2 Minute Medicine: Baylor College of Medicine, Professor of Pediatrics, Vice-Chairman for Educational Affairs, Vice President, Baylor International Pediatric AIDS Initiative.

“The story of the Pediatric AIDS Corps resonates with all medical students and young physicians that have chosen a career in medicine in order to make the world a better place.   It is the story of young physicians that choose a different path for themselves in order to take care of the children and their families living in areas of the world devastated by HIV/AIDS.  The PAC worked with their in-country partners to help facilitate sustainable changes that will allow children to receive health care long after this global health corps program is over.

Some may read about the PAC and think it is a sad story, but it is not. The PAC represents hope and unity, the coming together of different people and cultures to fight a common foe.  I encourage you to read about the PAC and then follow your dreams of making the world a better place.”

In-Depth [survey]: Researchers used an online, retrospective survey to evaluate the experience of physicians taking part in the PAC between 2006 and 2011. A total of 128 (38% male) physicians participated in the study were contacted with a response rate of 88% (n = 111). Twelve respondents (11%) experienced depression while serving abroad and 44% of PAC physicians experienced theft, violent crime, or sexual assault. Despite these safety and health concerns, 100% of respondents were happy with their decision to join PAC, and 99% of respondents (n = 110) endorsed recommending the experience to colleagues. After participating in the PAC, 52% (n = 55) pursued additional training (including public health or subspecialty training), and 87% (n = 92) of respondents said that their PAC experience impacted their subsequent career goals. Fifty-six percent of PAC physicians continued to work with resource-limited populations abroad, and 44% with resource-limited populations domestically.

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