A recent article in Becker’s Hospital Review discusses the issue of medical staff shortages in rural areas. Approximately 60 million Americans (20% of the population) live in rural communities. Around those locations, the physician-to-patient ratio is roughly 1 to 2,500.
How is the gap in rural health care coverage being addressed?
1. Schools and Medical Programs
Medical schools and residency programs have acknowledged the issue and are taking steps for improvement. Residency programs are placing medical residents in rural hospitals to help physicians understand rural medicine while erasing misconceptions. In addition, some medical schools have begun accepting more candidates from rural areas in hopes that they will eventually return home or to other rural areas to practice.
2. Hospitals are Emphasizing the Value of Rural Communities
Rural areas are often comprised of close-knit communities. Promoting the rural lifestyle is an effective way to appeal to healthcare providers looking to experience a sense of community while building long-term patient relationships. Working in rural healthcare means lower patient volumes resulting in less stress at work than when working in an urban setting.
3. Locum Tenens Practitioners
Utilizing locum tenens practitioners (also known as independent practitioners) allows rural and critical access hospitals to remain fully-staffed, thus enabling them to function at their full potential. More than 90% of hospitals in the U.S. report using locum providers. In addition to covering during staff shortages, locum tenens staff give relief during busy seasons, allowing staff physicians to take time off for vacations and other types of leave.
Over the past year, locum tenens practitioners with Wapiti Medical Staffing have provided healthcare to over 300,000 patients in underserved areas throughout the United States. Wapiti fills the gaps for hospitals and clinics by providing them with top-quality medical professionals they need when they need them.
If you are interested in learning more about being an independent practitioner, download Wapiti’s Official Guide or call our office at (888) 733-4428.