Rural physician jobs have long been a centerpiece of locum tenens work. After all, the concept of locum tenens — a Latin term meaning "to hold a place" — was originally a doctor who could step in and take care of shortages caused by a variety of reasons, such as seasonal fluctations, changes in population, vacationing or ill regular staff, and so on.
Today, that's as true as ever — and never has the need for country doctors and rural locum tenens workers been greater. As has been well documented throughout the media, America's rural regions are experiencing a severe shortage of primary care physicians.
"There are about 6,000 federally designated areas with a shortage of primary care doctors in the U.S.," writes Olga Khazan for The Atlantic. "Rural areas have about 68 primary care doctors per 100,000 people, compared with 84 in urban centers.
"Put another way, about a fifth of Americans live in rural areas, but barely a tenth of physicians practice there," Khazan adds.
Staff Care leaders have long made it a priority to address America's rural physician shortage, working to correct it by connecting doctors with rural physician jobs, and also by sponsoring the Country Doctor of the Year Award. For more than 20 years, Staff Care leaders have, through this award, worked to draw attention to the importance of rural physicians.
And this year's recipient of the award, Dr. Van Breeding of Letcher County, Kentucky, is a sterling exemplar of the "country doctor" — those who "make house calls, know their patients personally and dedicate themselves to the care of their community," as our Country Doctor Award page explains.
“I feel like I work in the country and I’ve always been a country person,” Dr. Breeding told WYMT Mountain News, his local CBS affiliate, about his reaction to winning the 2017 award.
But even physicians who many not necessarily consider themselves a “country person” can benefit from working rural doctor jobs — and offer an extraordinary service to a rural community in the process. (If you're interested in working a rural doctor job, we urge you to contact us here!)
Country Doctor of the Year Highlights Importance of Rural Physician Jobs
Previously, here at the Locums Link Blog, we've talked about the benefits of rural doctor jobs for physicians just leaving their residencies. For new physicians, rural locum tenens work can provide opportunities to:
- Practice in a wide variety of practice settings — i.e., the chance to "test drive" a setting before commiting to full-time work.
- Work in an area with lower expenses — Housing costs and everyday expenses are generally less in rural areas than they are in urban centers, which can be significantly helpful at a financially sensitive time in a physician's career.
- "Help many by reaching a few" — or the opportunity to serve more remote populations who "might otherwise not have access to certain types of care or would have to travel long distances to receive it."
> Read More of Our "5 Reasons for New Physicians to Work Locum Tenens Assignments in Rural Areas"
Dr. Breeding has spoken directly to that last point — the satisfaction of helping residents of his community stay healthy.
“When I get up in the morning I love coming to work, I love seeing patients,” Dr. Breeding told WYMT. “I love helping them feel better and feel better about themselves and help them work through their medical problems.”
“To work with them and to be a part of their life makes it worthwhile,” Dr. Breeding adds. “It makes it a great job to have. I really enjoy my job, I really enjoy my work and I really enjoy my patients."
Dr. Breeding has also spoken to USA Today about the importance of fighting to preserve affordable care for residents of his rural community.
"A patient with colon cancer may not mean much to a politician in Washington," he said. "But I'm from here and if we fail that person because we not able to get them screened at an early enough stage, it's a friend, it's a relative, it's an old classmate.
"We are all kinfolks here."
Even if you're not from a rural area, you can follow Dr. Breeding's footsteps by working a rural physician job on a locum tenens basis. And remember, a rural locum assignment doesn't need to be far from home. We have opportunities in all 50 states, and chances are good that we can connect you with a rural physician job that's close to where you live!
If you're interested in working a rural physician job, we urge you to contact us here — a friendly, industry-savvy Staff Care recruiter is standing by to connect you with the country doctor job that best meets your professional goals and personal interests! You can also search all of our available locum tenens jobs across the U.S. by clicking the button below.
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Image (c) Can Stock Photo / Hofmeester