Rural hospitals have been historically underserved. About 20% of the US population lives in rural communities, and only 11% of physicians practice rural medicine.
Physician shortages in rural areas don’t surprise the providers who have worked there. It’s a demanding job. But ask one of these physicians why they practice rural medicine, and you’ll soon realize the benefits far outweigh the challenges.
There are heartwarming reasons to practice rural medicine, such as becoming a part of the community and helping others access better care. And there are economic and lifestyle reasons to practice rural medicine, such as better pay and work schedules.
The reasons are endless, but rural medicine isn’t for everyone. Physicians in this space are different. They run toward difficulty, value independence, enjoy teaching others, and want to build relationships.
If you’re serving in the right model and you seek new challenges, you will love rural medicine.
Why practice rural medicine? Here are our top reasons:
1. You will practice at the top of your license.
A common concern for experienced physicians is maintaining and developing their skills. Physicians who practice in larger areas may have direct access to several specialists in every field. When resources seem limitless, it’s hard for a hospitalist to get new experiences and be consistently challenged. You don’t often need to solve new problems, and you may not even be allowed to.
In full-time rural medicine, you don’t typically have access to the resources and specialists you would have in a larger community. This means you are the leader in charge most of the time, arranging medical care and always prepared to take on the toughest cases. If you want to practice at the top of your license, rural medicine should stand out to you.
2. You will build relationships with patients and their families.
Few settings are as rewarding for physicians as rural hospitals.
Over time, you will get to know the patients and their families – not just medically but as people too. In smaller areas where everyone knows everyone, hospitalists quickly become a part of the community. In fact, many rural physicians stay at the same hospital for years because they are so close with the people. And this experience is true whether you live in the community or commute from a different location.
3. Your reimbursement structure will be better.
Many physicians – maybe even yourself – assume working in rural communities pays less than larger hospitals. Industry data would suggest it’s quite the opposite.
Over the last 10 years, physicians in larger cities have seen a downward pressure on their reimbursements. On the other hand, rural physicians have seen an upward pressure on their reimbursements – it’s supply and demand.
Both these trends have been true (and amplified) during the pandemic.
4. You will have more fun.
Most physicians who practice rural medicine will tell you “It’s just more fun.” In rural hospitals, you’re not being pushed and racing against time. You have time to talk to patients and families. You have time to build relationships outside of medical care. And you are the leadership voice.
Full-time rural physicians are the decision-makers. No more searching for the right specialist’s phone number or trying to agree on who should be involved in a care plan. In rural hospitals, decisions end with you.
Fun is subjective, but it often comes down to balance and overall quality of life. When you consider these reasons to practice rural medicine – from autonomy and community to flexibility and finance – it’s clear you will have more fun.
Finding the Right Physicians Group
There are many ways to get started in rural medicine. While they are all rewarding to some degree, there are key differences between your options that must be understood.
Rural Physicians Group stands out from other models with its unmatched career stability, community engagement, and a more appreciation for your service. If you’ve decided to practice rural medicine or you’re looking to change how you practice, Rural Physicians Group will offer you the best experience possible.
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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