Becoming a Rural Doctor: 6 Frequently Asked Questions

If you’re considering a career in rural medicine, you have important questions.

And when you search for answers, the results can be confusing.

There are many misunderstandings throughout the medical community about what it’s like to be a rural doctor. From hospital resources and professional support to compensation and employment structure, it can be difficult to land on clear and reliable information.

That’s why we organized a list of frequently asked questions we receive about becoming a rural doctor.

Let’s clear things up so you’re equipped to navigate this career decision.


1. Will I have collegial support?


You will have collegial support as a rural doctor.

No matter where you practice, your support system is your professional network of other physicians. Rural doctors may have peers in the area, but you will often be the only hospitalist on staff. You may also have peer support from neighboring communities and from relationships developed throughout your career.

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2. Will I have specialty support?

You will have specialty support, but these relationships work differently in rural hospitals.

Most rural doctors don’t have immediate access to specialists because the specialty groups are not located in the community. You will have the option to communicate with specialists and transfer patients when needed, but you’re the onsite leader in rural medicine. Many rural hospitalists enjoy this kind of environment because they get to practice at the top of their license.

At Rural Physicians Group, we ensure these relationships are established from the beginning. In addition to a connected team of medical leaders, you will have a reliable communication channel with a tertiary health center or larger hospital with access to specialty support. And in our model, specialists respect the rural hospitalists’ judgment in choosing whether or not to transfer patients – an important detail for experienced physicians practicing in these communities.


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3. Will I make less money?

Average compensation for rural doctors is higher than those practicing in larger areas.

It’s a common misconception that physician pay in rural medicine is less. But the reality is most rural doctors actually make more than their peers in big cities. The main reason you will make more money is based on simple supply and demand. Where the need is higher (rural areas), reimbursement structures are more favorable for the physician in demand (rural hospitalist).

At Rural Physicians Group, physicians receive a competitive daily stipend and compensation directly from patient billings. And as an independent contractor, you can take advantage of the tax benefits of ownership without the burden of overhead costs.


4. Do rural hospitals have the right equipment and resources?

Resources vary from hospital to hospital.

There are rural hospitals with limited equipment, especially larger machines for imaging and diagnostics. If something isn’t available onsite, most rural doctors will have access at a nearby facility or tertiary centers in larger areas. At Rural Physicians Group, we ensure you have access to everything you need to do your job.

5. How much control will I have over the schedule?

Scheduling flexibility depends on the type of model you’re practicing under.

Rural medicine models vary when it comes to your schedule. Some are more rigid, where shifts are always the same and schedules are determined by administrators. And some are more flexible, where shifts are determined by you and your peers.

With Rural Physicians Group, you can make your own schedule so it’s more flexible and predictable.


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6. Will I be an employee or contractor?

Employment structures in rural medicine depend on the model in which you’re practicing.

In most cases, rural doctors who aren’t employed by the local hospital are either 1099 independent contractors or full-time employees within a separate medical practice.

With Rural Physicians Group, you will practice as a 1099 independent contractor which presents many financial benefits. These benefits can vary, but in general our rural doctors have greater control over withholdings, deductions, and an overall higher earning potential.

Becoming a rural doctor is an all-around rewarding career move.

In the right environment, you’ll experience total alignment with your goals – clinical, cultural, and financial.

If you're a board-certified or board eligible physician and are interested in exploring Rural Physicians Group for your career, reach out to our physician recruitment team today.

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