Why I Choose to Work in Rural Hospitals
As a surgeon, I commonly get asked by family, friends, and patients why I chose to work in rural America. I get it; why work in rural America if I live in big city USA?
Here is my deal… I live in a large city with three professional sports teams, plenty of outdoor activities, and great food… yet I don’t want to work there. I prefer to keep my professional life separate from my personal life. Thus, I choose to live in one city and travel to work in another. I am happier this way and have found a great work-life balance.
For some, this may seem crazy, but why? I love traveling to rural America to practice medicine!
Why would I choose to work in a community where I don’t live full-time? Rural hospitals for doctors can provide unique, incredibly rewarding, and fulfilling opportunities. I have found rural America to be a pleasant place to practice medicine without the stressors of medicine in bigger, busier cities. This blog provides 10 reasons why I choose to work in rural America and why I believe you might also want to consider doing it.
#1. The staff gives a sh*t.
Much of the hospital’s staff grew up in the surrounding area and care about their local communities. To them, it’s more than just a job; it’s a way to care for their fellow man (or woman). I often hear from operating room staff how they know my surgical patients from high school or the local grocery store. The staff cares about these people and wants to see them do well, which makes it easier to practice medicine (and do surgery).
#2. Great patient population.
Some of the best people to treat are found in rural America. What I have discovered about rural America is that these folks want to be treated locally rather than traveling to bigger cities. They appreciate the physicians that can treat them locally rather than traveling three hours to a bigger facility. More so, folks in rural America have more reasonable expectations about their medical care, making it easier to practice medicine.
#3. Patient families are more involved.
In rural America, more families are present to speak with physicians. Practicing medicine is more manageable when I have a family to talk with in person rather than tracking them down by phone.
#4. Administrators are accessible.
Unlike larger healthcare systems in big cities, many of these rural hospitals have administrators that are easily accessible to address your patient concerns. Many of these administrators grew up in these small communities and recognize the value of physicians to the area.
#5. Slower pace.
I am not trying to say that hospitals in rural America run at “Forest Gump-like” speed, but the urgency and bustle seen at bigger facilities is not always there. Working at a slower pace might not be something you are accustomed to, but you can certainly get used to it.
#6. Collegiality and culture.
Physicians in rural America place a greater emphasis on getting to know each other and making an effort to play well in the sandbox. This is something not always seen at larger, busier facilities.
#7. Physician lounges.
I have yet to find a facility in rural America that does not offer a great physician lounge for physicians to eat and socialize with one another.
#8. Less stress.
Rural facilities seem to make more effort to accommodate physicians to lessen their stress and improve their work-life balance.
#9. Good pay.
Let’s face it; medicine is not an altruistic profession. We may love medicine, but most would not do it for free. It’s good to be paid well!
#10. Smaller hospitals.
Big hospitals are fun, but who said I wanted to get 10,000 steps in during my workday? I prefer to be at smaller hospitals where everything is close by.
This physician chooses to work in rural hospitals
Rural America provides physicians a unique opportunity to make a real difference in people’s lives. Physicians who work in rural areas can often build close relationships with their patients, staff, colleagues, and administrators, which can be incredibly rewarding. For all of these reasons and more, physicians should seriously consider working in rural America like me!
About the Author
Aaron Morgenstein, MD, is a board-certified orthopedic surgeon. Contact Aaron.
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