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Hospitalists in rural communities short on specialists
07.19.2012Although supplies and specialists are much more abundant in urban settings, some hospitalists residing in rural areas appreciate folksy atmospheres and the tight-knit communities that come with small-town life.
Such hospitalists from across the nation were interviewed for a feature story in the Hospitalist. They agreed that their facilities, most of which didn't have more than 50 beds, were modestly equipped. Sometimes they had to send patients to bigger hospitals to get proper treatments because their facilities lacked an available specialist or necessary machinery. While acknowledging the challenges of rural practices, the article mainly focused on efforts these facilities have made to recruit new hospitalists.
According to statistics from the American Hospital Association (AHA), rural hospitals are more likely to provide house calls, skilled nursing and assisted living than their urban counterparts. Small towns are clearly more laid back, which the news source said could result in a lighter workload for hospitalists, though perhaps a more erratic schedule, as well.
The fact that the towns were always extremely far away from the nearest airport was highlighted as one reason hospitalists avoid working in small, remote areas. But subjects in the article talked up the increase in professional independence, access to the outdoors, potential signing bonuses, and the possibility for young families to raise their youngsters somewhere quieter.
Bucking the stereotypes that people who live out in the woods can't use new technology, the AHA reports that rural clinics are making progress on conforming to meaningful use, though they're behind the cities. The Hospitalist article states that telemedicine is becoming a more common practice in rural areas to compensate for the lack of nearby specialists.
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