Almost all professionals dream of lucrative careers in large cities because of big pays, glamour and fame. However, there are doctors who have found great rewards in helping rural areas gain access to medicine programs despite the many challenges this calling encounters.
For example, one doctor in a 25-bed hospital has been practicing as a family physician giving access to medicine programs in a town with a population of around 3,000 people. He says that he has become a member of a closely-knit community that his patients, rather than just being names on the list, are friends and families of friends, to whom he has strong social connections with.
However, the big challenge for these rural hospital doctors providing is that they become all-around specialists in their hospitals as the only other doctor in the facility is the emergency department doctor while the nearest surgeon lives 30 miles away. This setting gives rural doctors vast chances to develop their practice-honed diagnostic skills as well as their clinical judgment as compared to the medical setting in urban areas where doctors can rely on other specialists and in medical technology.
Studies by hospital associations in the United States show that more and more rural hospitals are making efforts towards access to medicine programs to rural communities, to include attracting more doctors to go into rural medical practice. However, this is not all easy due to factors such as lack of specialists to back doctors up, schedule and other staffing concerns, as well as economic considerations because rural hospitals do not have big budget for staff compensation and technologically advanced facilities.
But doctors who are have already committed to providing rural areas access to medicine programs rebut that there is more to medicine than money and glamour. They argue that rural communities have relatively lower standard cost of living, lower crime rate, and gratifying interpersonal relationship with members of the community, outdoor recreation and slower pace of life. All these can be summarized to a better quality of life for the doctor and his family, and that cannot be equated with monetary value.
On a professional point of view, rural medicine practitioners find that they have more leeway in exercising clinical judgment than they would have in large city hospitals where doctors are managed by those who are more senior in rank and in expertise. They find that being the big fish in a small pond is professionally gratifying that being a doctor that is ordered around in the emergency room.
Programs providing medicine access to rural areas is not without its challenges but doctors who are already into it feel that they are doing their share of social services while earning a living.