5 Rewards of Practicing Rural Medicine
It’s no secret that there’s a heightened demand for physicians across the United States. As of today, the United States is expected to face a shortage of between 42,600 and 121,300 physicians by the end of the next decade, according to the Association of American Medical Colleges But the physician shortage is most prominent in rural areas, which accounted for nearly 60% of the nation’s more than 7,200 areas lacking adequate health care.
Over the past 10 years, the United States has seen well over 100 rural hospitals close, more than 30 of these were critical access facilities. Due to the shortage of physicians in rural settings, over 60 million people struggle to gain access to healthcare each year. Experts predict America’s aging population will further increase the demand for medical care, while the supply of physicians will drop, due to the fact that a third of physicians currently in practice will be older than 65 by 2030 and ready to retire. For some hospitals, a single physician’s retirement could mean an entire patient population doesn’t receive proper care.
There are additional challenges to the widespread doctor shortage and ongoing need for those who carry a physician license in rural states. This is partially attributed to the fact that most graduating doctors often end up choosing to practice medicine in the state where they attended school. For rural states without their own state medical school this issue is significant, leading the healthcare industry to consider what can be done to better encourage doctors to pursue practicing outside of busy, metropolitan areas.
As millenials come in and boomers go out, rural states can be a tough sell to doctors who want to relocate to begin their practice. Most doctors seek out states with large population centers, more enrichment opportunities and educational advancement. The many benefits to living in rural states such as beautiful weather, low fuel prices, excellent medical services and low crime rates often get overlooked. The cost of housing and other essentials is also fairly reasonable.
Although the reality of these shortages can seem dire, it equally presents new opportunities for physicians, especially those interested in exploring different parts of the country. If you’ve ever considered venturing to a new location to practice medicine, you should certainly consider going rural. Although the environment may sound intimidating, there are numerous benefits to pursuing this practice experience.
Read on for 5 Distinct Rewards of Practicing Rural Medicine:
1. Practice Where You Are Needed.
By choosing to practice in a rural setting, you will be serving patients who otherwise wouldn’t get specialized care – or who would have to travel incredibly long distances to receive it. Sadly, in many cases, underserved patients in rural communities often are forced to drive hundreds of miles for care. Sometimes, these long drives can cost them their lives.
While about a fifth of American physicians do live in rural areas, only about a tenth of them choose practice there. Since people living in rural areas are deeply affected by the physician shortage, you would be making a significant difference in their lives by practicing in these areas. As a physician, you already have the skillset to save people’s lives, but choosing to practice in a rural location amplifies the number of lives you can impact.
2. Better Quality of Life.
Although your services will be in demand, your quality of life in rural settings is bound to increase since your stress levels are likely to decrease. Physicians considering an urban locale may get paid a higher salary; however, practicing in a smaller town could offset a salary difference due to the lower cost of living.
Given that the cost of living is often significantly less in rural areas, physicians can purchase a larger house on several acres of land compared to the little real estate available if living and practicing in a large city. The cost of real estate also tends to be much lower, so the quality and size of your home cannot be compared to anything you would see for a similar price in an urban market. Childcare, property taxes, and even restaurants tend to be less expensive as well
“People go to medical school for all kinds of different reasons, but if the reason is to make a real difference, there are very few opportunities that offer as many ways to make a real difference as rural medicine.”(4)
3. Stronger Sense of Community & Patient Loyalty.
Physicians are especially well-regarded in rural settings, due to a much stronger sense of overall community and a small-town feel. You can also make a more significant impact on the hospital’s reputation and overall patient satisfaction more so than if you were in a more populated area. Trusted and appreciated by the patients you serve, you become a familiar face and valued member of the community.
Such social benefits should not be overlooked, as community and togetherness help establish strong continuity of care, which should be evaluated when considering the pros and cons of practicing rural medicine.
4. Expand Your Skills & Experience.
Since there aren’t many physician specialists in rural areas, doctors from small communities typically receive the opportunity to manage a wider range of cases on their own.The lack of nearby specialty hospitals or clinics could mean you perform procedures you might not otherwise when working in an urban market.
You will learn to serve a variety of roles, too, from primary care physician to pediatrician to dentist to OB/GYN and more. Also, because the percentage of the population in rural areas skews higher, you will see more older adults with chronic conditions.
Not all the care you provide will be emergent either. Yours may be the only facility where patients can see a doctor anytime day or night, all of which means you’ll get the opportunity to expand your breadth of experience and advance more quickly. This is an excellent opportunity to hone your skills and increase your proficiency, adaptability, and confidence in practice areas where you might not otherwise gain this experience
5. More Time for Family + Leisure.
Rural areas offer more physical and natural space, lower noise levels and traffic, and a far greater sense of community.Can you imagine a 10 minute commute without traffic? Rural physicians can! Rural towns are also less congested with traffic due to their smaller size, decreasing the time to commute and all the additional stress that accompanies living in a larger metropolitan area.
In addition to the benefits of practicing in a rural community, you can spend quality time with your family and loved ones, enjoying parts of the country, outside of town with several acres and beautiful views. Without a lengthy drive to factor in at the end of the day, you can make it to kids’ after school activities or be home in time for dinner. And don’t forget the lifestyle benefits of a rural community – access to wildlife, sports, arts, food and local hospitality – as part of the total package offered.
Thinking of Relocating to Rural America? What You Need to Know About Applying For Your State Medical License.
Rural America is struggling to find qualified doctors who want to fill open positions and because of this, there are many available posts to fill. IF you have selected to move and work in one of the above mentioned states, you will need to fill out the paperwork for your physician’s license. Where do you begin when you need to fill out all of the required paperwork? Unfortunately, the vast amount of steps to take to apply and receive your physician license can be daunting. Luckily, there are additional resources that can help simplify the application process. Joining the physician workforce in Rural America will help these states overcome additional healthcare challenges, providing those who are underserved proper healthcare.
The Medical Licensing process can be quite lengthy and difficult if you don’t know what you are doing. Expect to spend numerous hours preparing the application, making the verification requests, following up with your credential holders, and addressing deficiencies on your notices from your State Medical Board, but…
What if someone offered to…
- Determine your license eligibility
- Make all credential verification requests
- Follow up with credential holders
- Handle additional Medical Board requests
- Make your license process incredibly simple!
You should probably let them!
Only $597 per State
Discounts available for multiple states, training licenses, and military.