Awaiting Doctors in Rural Areas

December 12, 2012 in Medical Careers

rural medicine

There is a growing need for physicians all over the country, but more so in rural areas.  Only about 10 percent of physicians are currently practicing in rural areas.  Of those, about 27 percent are older than 55 meaning that in a very short time many more physicians will be needed in these areas.

Medical schools are looking into this need in rural America and looking into how rural communities can recruit experienced healthcare professionals.  There are a few ways that are currently in place.  Recent college graduates have been give incentives such as paying off of their student loan debt if they practice in a rural area.  Some colleges have also created a rural-track program with the goal of hoping to increase the number of healthcare professionals in those needed rural areas.  These programs are proving that when students practice rural healthcare, they gain a strong sense of self-sufficiency and pride in providing care to patients that need it most.

These types of incentives may encourage a few medical students to practice rural medicine, but there needs to be a solution looking at a larger scale.  The answer may be to try and draw more students into practicing medicine from rural communities.  According to a survey conducted by the Colorado Health Institute among doctors and nurses in Colorado, those who grew up in rural areas were twice as likely to return to rural areas to work.

There are a number of universities that have risen to the top in rural health education.  U.S. News and World Report has ranked the top 23 medical schools with the best rural medicine programs.  A couple of the top ranked ones are:

The University of New Mexico:  UNM has a program known as Project ECHOProject ECHO (Extension for Community Healthcare Outcomes), which promotes care in underserved areas.  Its mission is to develop the capacity to safely and effectively treat chronic, common, and complex diseases in rural and underserved areas, and to monitor outcomes of this treatment.

University of Minnesota:  The Rural Health Research Center at the University of Minnesota addresses key forces that are shaping quality of care and quality Rural Health Researchimprovement in rural areas.  Its mission is to conduct high quality, empirically driven, policy-relevant research that can be disseminated in an effective and timely manner to help improve the quality and fiscal viability of rural healthcare.

If you are interested in practicing in a rural area, do your research on the availability of the various programs that are available.  You are in much need everywhere.

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