It’s no secret that there’s a heightened demand for physicians across the United States. The impact, however, is even stronger in rural areas. Over the past 10 years, the United States has seen well over 100 rural hospitals close, with nearly 20 closings just this year. And that number is increasing.
Due to the shortage of physicians in rural settings, over 60 million people struggle to gain access to healthcare each year. For some hospitals, a single physician’s retirement could mean an entire patient population doesn’t receive proper care. These factors have created true medical wastelands for residents living in the hundreds of square miles that don’t have a facility that provides access to quality care. Since the issue is projected to only get worse, many rural hospitals are relying on locum tenens physicians to fill their significant gaps in patient care.
Although the reality seems dire, it also creates 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 this practice experience. Read on to discover four distinct rewards of working rurally.
- Practice where your services are truly needed. In many cases, underserved patients in smaller communities must drive hundreds of miles for care. Sometimes, this drive costs them their lives. While about a fifth of Americans live in rural areas, only a tenth of doctors 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 medical professional, you have skills that can be lifesaving; practicing in rural locations amplifies the number of lives you can impact.
- Decrease potential burnout. 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. Rural areas offer more physical and natural space, lower noise levels and traffic, and a far greater sense of community. In addition to the benefits of practicing in a rural community, you can spend quality time with your family and enjoy various parts of the country.
- Enjoy patient loyalty. Working in rural settings becomes a truly immersive experience. Since there’s a much stronger sense of overall community and a small-town feel, physicians are especially well-regarded. People appreciate and are loyal to doctors in these areas, and these social benefits shouldn’t be overlooked. Community and togetherness help establish strong continuity of care, which should be evaluated when considering the pros and cons of a locums assignment.
- Expand your skills. 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. 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.
To explore locum tenens assignment opportunities in rural areas, please contact one of our knowledgeable Medicus Healthcare Solutions representatives at 855-301-0563.