Even before the pandemic, the health care systems that serve rural Americans were in decline: rural hospitals were closing their doors, and the medical workforce was shrinking. This year, as the coronavirus outbreak has made its way from major cities to rural America, threats to the rural health care infrastructure have only increased.
Living in rural America certainly comes with a number of benefits. There is less crime, access to the outdoors, and lower costs of living.
Yet, not everything is rosy outside the city limits. Rural communities face growing infrastructure problems like decaying water systems. And they have more limited access to amenities ranging from grocery stores to movie theaters, lower quality schools, and less access to high-speed internet.
Yet perhaps most daunting are the tremendous health disparities rural Americans face, in terms of both their own health and accessing care.
Presidential candidates and other politicians have talked about the rural health crisis in the U.S., but they are not telling rural Americans anything new. Rural Americans know all too well what it feels like to have no hospital and emergency care when they break a leg, go into early labor, or have progressive chronic diseases, such as diabetes and congestive heart failure.
The health care situation in rural America has gotten worse since my childhood. Rural Americans face serious health disparities because of the shortage of physicians and the resulting lack of access to care.
There's a changing of the guard going on in the health care industry, and its effects may be most apparent in rural America. As baby boomer doctors retire, independent family practices are closing, especially in small towns. Only 1% of doctors in their final year of medical school say they want to live in communities under 10,000; only 2% were wanted to live in towns of 25,000 or fewer.
If not for telehealth, Marcin says, the costs of getting what should be routine care "are significant barriers for those living in rural communities."
In some parts of central Appalachia, doctors are few and far between, and so is the money to pay for them. That leaves a weekend-long annual medical event as some people's only way to get treatment.
Adopting m-health would allow doctors to reach out through mobile phones and tablet apps to conduct examinations while such patients remain at home; track exercise, blood pressure or other metrics; send reminders to take a walk or take a pill; or deliver information to help manage chronic ailments. But spotty cellular networks in the southern Sierra create problems for people using mobile apps.
As these data demonstrate, there is a lot of conflicting information regarding the degree of shortage of rural surgeons. It can be difficult to draw conclusions and come up with a real answer to the question of how many rural surgeons are needed now and in the future.
The simple fact of where you live can have a huge impact on your health.
The rugged lifestyle has its appeal, just not for physicians.
If you're looking for the moving, dramatic, and intimate hospital environment you see on TV, and for the passion and commitment that make doctors such great subjects for hit shows, forget about big cities and their grind, and head down south.
Welcome to the Rural Health Research Gateway. This site provides access to publications and projects funded through the federal Office of Rural Health Policy (ORHP) as part of the Rural Health Research Centers and Analysis Initiatives grant program.
Welcome to 3RNet, the National Rural Recruitment and Retention Network. 3RNet members are non-profit organizations helping health professionals find jobs in rural and underserved areas throughout the country. 3RNet members are eager to talk with you about jobs and opportunities that are available in their locations.
The Canadian Rural Health Research Society offers the opportunity for researchers and their collaborators to network with new and established researchers of many disciplines engaged in rural, remote and northern health research.
The international electronic journal of rural and remote health research, education, practice and policy. Rural and Remote Health was initiated in 1998 by a grant to Deakin University from the Department of Human Services, Rural health Division, Victoria, Australia. The initial vision was to serve rural and remote communities throughout the world by providing a community forum and specific health-related information.