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Objective: This study assessed the characteristics of medical doctors working in public healthcare institutions and examined differences in some of the characteristics by geographical (urban versus rural) location.
Methods: A cross-sectional study of doctors working in public healthcare institutions using data obtained from 3 centres in Bayelsa, Nigeria.
Results: Three-quarters (75.4%) of the 280 medical doctors were males. Most of the doctors (68.6%) were working at tertiary healthcare level, 16.1% at primary and 15.4% at secondary healthcare levels. In terms of their professional positions, there were more medical officers (34.5%) relative to the other cadres while 17.2% were consultants. When their places of practice were dichotomised into rural and urban settings, 88.2% were practising in urban settings. A higher proportion of the 69 female doctors were practising in urban settings compared to rural settings (26.7% versus 9.1% respectively, P=0.027). There was a statistically significant relationship between residency status and place of practice (P=0.001). Specialists (i.e. doctors who have completed residency training) were more likely to practice in urban (19.2%) than in rural settings (3.3%).
Conclusion: Only a quarter of doctors in this study were females. There seemed to be more doctors at tertiary level of care and in urban areas. These findings suggest that there may be a shortage of female doctors, and that there may be unmet personnel needs at primary and secondary healthcare levels and in rural areas.
Keywords: Health services, Human resources for heath, Health workforce, Geographical Distribution, Medical Doctors