Rural Practice Benefits

  • Slower pace of life
  • Greater sense of safety for self and family
  • Less traffic and pollution
  • Equivalent or higher net income
  • Lower housing costs
  • Less competitive lifestyle
  • Closer proximity to outdoor recreational opportunities
  • Elevated status in community

 

Let’s start with the obvious – what is rural?  Rural to me may not be rural to you.  We all have at least some idea of what that might mean but suffice it to say that by default, rural is not suburban or urban.  Considering a rural location, however you define the word, has several distinct advantages that are not apparent until you have given that “rural”, small town location a closer look. Almost 25% of the US population resides in rural areas across the country.  However, only 9% of all practicing doctors work in these locations.

 

Most small-town settings are now replete with modern amenities you would have thought only existed in urban areas.  While they may not have everything you could buy there, there is always the ubiquitous Amazon Prime to have delivered just about anything you want or need.

 

The practice of medicine in a small-town, rural settings likely offers a physician a wider array of cases and diversity of patient care needs than the typical suburban or urban practice, making the day to day clinic aspect of a rural practice more interesting and challenging – in a good way.  This is a great way to bring your skill level and confidence as a physician to a whole new level.

 

Most rural hospitals have well established referral networks to larger sister facilities for secondary or tertiary level of care staffed by accessible specialists and subspecialists.  Many of these specialists have regularly scheduled clinics in the community. Additionally, the advent of and increased use of telemedicine makes access to subspecialty care more available as well. Even with the possibility of a heavier call schedule, many rural doctors still enjoy more personal and family time because they aren’t spending one to three hours each day commuting to and from work.

 

Many of the physicians we have worked with over the years believe their small-town patients are more deferential and compliant as well.  These physicians recount with fondness numerous stories where patients have brought handmade gifts or fresh baked goodies as they attend to multiple generations of families.

 

The practice of medicine is typically less competitive as well.  This makes building and maintaining a private practice much easier and often more rewarding financially.  Both disposable income and discretionary income are higher as the cost of doing business in a small town is lower.  As one surgeon said so eloquently a few years ago, “It’s not what you make – it’s what you keep.”

 

The shortage of providers in rural areas often makes it easier for early-career professionals to get jobs, set up private practices, and advance in their careers. Also, a big benefit of working with rural facilities is that they offer loan forgiveness programs. The longer you practice medicine in a rural community, the more loans can be forgiven. This is an awesome benefit to spending years practicing in these areas.

 

Lastly, because you’re likely to see your patients everywhere, you can take a proactive approach to care, checking in with your patients when you see them out and about in the community. People living in small towns tend to be more open and friendlier than those of bigger cities. If full immersion in the field of medicine is a lifestyle you’d love to live, consider a career as a rural doctor. It could be an opportunity of a lifetime.

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