Sunday, April 6, 2008

Rural Practice, Physician Business Ideas - Rural Vs Urban Practice: The Lure of the Country, The Pull of the City

Fly the rank city, shun its turbid air:
Breathe not the chaos of eternal
And volatile corruption.
…and tho’ the lungs abhor
Those tender cells that draw the vital
While yet your breathe away! The ru-
ral wilds

John Armstrong, M.D. The Art of Preserving Health, 1744

When it comes to luring doctors to practice, the city wins hands down over the country. Cities attract 134 vs. 54 specialists and 77 vs. 53 primary care doctors per 100,000 populations.

But it doesn’t not always need to be so. David Rousch, president and COO of which does 60% of its business in rural America, writes in the April 2 that three myths exist concerning rural practice.

Myth #1: You won’t make much money. He says rural physicians have 13% more purchasing power than their urban counterparts and average $242,000 per year compared to $235,000 for urban physicians.

Myth #2: You’ll be on call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Rousch says rural doctors have more time with family and non-professional pursuits. Among other reasons, they’re not spending 1 to 3 hours a day commuting to work

Myth #3: You can’t possibly know enough (you’ll be isolated and “over your head.) Not true according to a survey. Rural doctors feel more closely connected to colleagues and have closer relationships to specialists to whom they refer.

Rousch concludes with these advantages of rural practice.

• Slower pace of life
• Greater feelings of safety for self and family
• Less traffic and pollution
• Shorter commuting times
• Higher net income
• Lower housing costs
• Less competition
• Closer proximity to outdoors
• Increased status in community

Rousch has his own business ax to grind, but what it has to say has the germ of truth. Still the ratio of urban/rural doctors in primary care is 1:5 and among specialists, it is 2.5: 1. Clearly most of the profession continues to prefer urban to rural practice.

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