Supply and demand – it's basic economics. But what happens when demand outweighs supply? And what happens when the demand is for doctors to care for people?
That’s what’s happening right here in America, as the demand for physicians continues to outweigh the supply. What we have now is a physician shortage that limits access to medical care – and sadly, rural communities have been hit especially hard.
The obstacles people face in rural and underserved communities are very different than those in highly populated cities, too. For starters, health disparities make it difficult for rural Americans to lead normal healthy lives. Factors include economic hardships, cultural and social differences, educational shortcomings, lack of recognition by legislators, and even just the isolation of living in a remote area.
According to the National Rural Health Association, 25 percent of Americans live in rural areas, yet only 10 percent of physicians choose careers in rural medicine. For many doctors, the glamor and convenience of "big city" living can be enticing. While these cities may be home to impressive medical centers and multispecialty groups, though, opportunities in many medical specialties can be scarce and highly competitive.
Rural communities, however, are bursting with medical opportunities and even higher salary possibilities. Rural medicine also allows locum tenens physicians and advanced practitioners the chance to lend their skills to a community in need and care for an array of patients from different backgrounds. Rural doctors also have the ability to really get to know their patients, sometimes caring for many generations. There’s also the small-town charm of rural living.
Family Practice physicians Dr. Sherry Williams and Dr. Kenneth Brown have both practiced in rural communities and enjoy the day-to-day excitement and challenges that come with a rural setting. They've both called on aspects of their physician training that the average family doctor might not use on a daily basis. While some cases might wind up in the emergency room in a bigger city, Dr. Williams and Dr. Brown know that their life-saving care may be all these patients have.
When dealing with different wounds or injuries she might otherwise refer, Dr Williams says, “I’ll repair it, because I know the truth is, they’re not going to make the trip in to the city,” suggesting that issues with transportation are to blame for some patients not being able to receive the care they need. “You never know what your day is going to be like out here,” continues Williams, who had recently cared for a man that was kicked by a horse.
Whether you feel a calling to tend to the underserved or are drawn to the rural life, endless practice options await locum tenens physicians and advanced practitioners who choose to work in rural areas. Earn a higher salary, provide care where it’s needed most, further your medial skills, and experience a greater work-life balance with a new locum tenens assignment in a rural community. Talk with a recruiter about the options and locations available with us today! If you’ve worked locums in a small town, we’d love to hear about your experiences. Email us your story at ChangeLives@interimphysicians.com.