For many residents, fellows, and practicing physicians, the glamor and convenience of "big city" living entice many to practice medicine in locations such as New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles. However, although these cities are home to grandiose medical centers and multispecialty groups, medical opportunities are typically more competitive and scarcer.
But little do many providers know, rural American communities are bursting with medical opportunities as well as small town charm and higher salary possibilities! Here are four reasons why you should work locum tenens assignments in rural America.
1. A higher salary + a lower cost of living = more money in your pocket.
Unlike urban communities where rent, transportation, and food/personal items can be double or even triple the price, small towns relish in lower costs of living. For physicians or mid levels seeking more pay, rural facilities often have a demand for medical providers much greater than their city counterparts, thus meaning higher salary negotiations. For locums physicians and midlevels with student loans or credit debt, rural assignments can be just the boost you need to become financially stable and save.
2. The opportunity to provide care where it’s needed most.
Did you know that roughly “20 percent of the United States population – more than 50 million people – live in rural locations?” according to the National Center for Biotechnology Information. For many small rural towns, the local hospital or family clinic may be the only healthcare facility within a 100 miles. As a locums provider, you have the opportunity to provide care to the physical laborers, farmers, and miners who built and continue to build America. Another perk: the ability to establish relationships and know patients on a first name basis!
3. Furthered medical skills and experience.
Small hospitals and clinics often need more coverage than available allowing medical providers the opportunity to experience various patient censuses, dabble in more specialties, encounter different conditions and treatments, and learn how to practice solo or alongside a team. For a new or tenured provider, a locums assignment combined with rural experience may differentiate you when applying for other medical positions!
4. A return to work-life balance.
Maybe you want to work a Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. schedule and spend the weekends fishing in a nearby creek. Or, maybe the 5-minute drive home during your lunch break will allow you to spend more time with your loved ones. Rural towns offer a slower pace and relaxed lifestyle for providers who work in an already busy environment.
For those of you interested in working a locums position in a rural community, talk with your recruiter about the options and locations available. If you’ve worked locums in a small town, we’d love to hear about your experiences!