How to Fix the Rural Physician Shortage

There has always been a need for physicians to care for the public, but that need has never been so urgent than it is now for rural communities. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, only twelve percent of physicians practicing in the United States work in rural areas. You may consider that percentage as being proportionate to those who live in these areas, but that is unfortunately false. Rural communities cover 97% of U.S. land and are home to nearly 60 million people. These communities account for practically 20% of our country’s population, so rural medical facilities must attract quality healthcare professionals to their areas. Because the shortage of physicians is such a huge problem and needs to be addressed, here are some ideas to fix it.

Open new medical schools

The lack of medical schools found in rural areas could be adding to the physician shortage. If schools were built in smaller communities, more students would flow into and practice in the area. It is important to note that students are more likely to practice where they attended school. For example, the AAMC conducted a study and found that 42 percent of medical students who graduated at a school in North Carolina stayed in North Carolina to practice.

Adjust recruiting strategies

Another way schools can have a positive effect on the physician shortages is not only through building more medical schools, but changing the way they recruit their students. Recruiters have begun to take an interest in young people who are from rural areas. Sensitive to the rural shortage, many medical schools have started accepting more applicants from rural areas in their programs with the hope they will return home to practice and encourage others to practice in rural areas.

Increase awareness

Young doctors often steer clear of rural settings because they are interested in metropolitan areas where they went to school or grew up. They may also think rural areas are unable to offer their spouses employment or children with well-ranked schools. These fears and misconceptions can be resolved with increased awareness of the many benefits of practicing in rural areas. Serving a rural community will not only enrich your life but the lives of those in the community as well.

Offer incentives

Many rural healthcare facilities are adding continuing education programs to attract providers. There are now many educational opportunities available to physicians who choose to practice in these communities. Additionally, rural facilities often offer loan forgiveness programs to physicians and other providers who come to work for them.

Rural regions deserve access to quality healthcare, and these communities often provide many advantages to doctors who come to work there. Yet, providers are often unaware of the many benefits that working in a rural community can offer. There are many ways to make smaller, more remote healthcare facilities attractive to potential recruits. If you are a provider looking for a job, or a facility looking for recruitment help, TinkBird Healthcare Staffing can help you. Contact us today for more information.


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