Physicians Survey Offers Fair Assessment of Rural Medicine


3/20/2008 12:00:00 AM


Physicians Survey Offers Fair Assessment of Rural Medicine Sees Common Myths Dying Out

Alpharetta, Ga., March 20, 2008 Results of a recent physician survey by recruiting firm indicate that many physicians today don't buy into common "myths" about practicing rural medicine. Those include:

  1. You won't make as much money.
  2. You won't have time for yourself or your family.
  3. You'll be isolated, both personally and professionally.

"When we asked physicians to share their views on rural medicine, we thought we'd see stereotypes about rural America reinforced more than we did," President David Roush said. "When almost two thousand physicians responded, we were surprised to learn how fair most physicians were in their assessments of rural health care."

On the issue of profitability, slightly more than half (52.5%) of respondents with no rural health care experience said rural medicine is more profitable than urban or suburban practice, compared to only 23% of respondents with rural practice experience. However, from the latter group more than a third (35%) said the profitability of rural versus urban practice is about the same, and 14% said greater rural purchasing power compensates for the lower profitability of rural medicine.

Slower Pace, Less Frustration

Regarding personal time, the majority of physician survey respondents (61%)-both those who have practiced rural health care and those who haven't-thought that the pace of rural practice is slower than the pace of metropolitan practice, while 31% of respondents overall thought the pace of rural and metropolitan practice are about the same.

Only 16% of physician survey respondents who've practiced in rural America said rural health care is more frustrating, while 47% thought the level of frustration is about the same for both rural and metropolitan practice. The responses from physicians with no rural health experience are consistent, with 15% of them indicating rural health care is more frustrating and 43% saying the level of frustration is about the same between the two.

On the subject of isolation in rural medicine, physicians' open-ended comments contained a number of references to this concern. However, they also included comments like these:

"The connectedness between components of the care delivery system is closer and easier to navigate in rural areas. I have never found serious drawbacks to rural practice."

"If one is far enough away from the urban setting, the peace and solitude makes up for the lack of 'urban' activity."

"There are multiple informal support systems for patients and physicians. One is a respected member of the community and can make a real difference in overall mental health outcomes and systems." Best of Staffing Client Logo Best of Staffing Talent Logo Fortune Best Workplace Logo NALTO Logo Beyond Profit Logo