You know when you’re on a road trip and you pass by those small towns that you’d miss if you blinked? Rural areas like that are home to nearly one-fifth of Americans and yet, only one-tenth of healthcare workers practice there. Here’s why you should take a travel assignment in rural healthcare.
Rural healthcare needs you
Providers and patients in rural areas face a unique combination of difficulties with geographic access, economic inequity, and a shortage of healthcare professionals among the biggest factors.
Unlike urban hospitals and facilities, rural healthcare facilities have limitations due to geographic access and/or transportation. Rural healthcare access in small towns is a challenge, with the nearest hospital being more than 50 miles away at times, depending on location.
One solution lies with traveling healthcare professionals. They’re able to help fill the need in rural hospitals quickly and give hospitals the ability to easily adjust their staff levels as census levels change.
Because of their locations and specific barriers, people living in non-urban settings are more likely to die from heart disease, cancer, unintentional injury, chronic lower respiratory disease, and stroke. For example, unintentional injury deaths are approximately 50% more likely to occur in rural areas than in urban communities, largely due to long travel distances.
You have the power to make a significant difference in the lives of rural Americans. As more rural healthcare facilities close, the need for professional healthcare workers in rural areas increase.
While rural pay rates aren’t particularly high, there are financial incentives to taking a rural assignment. Since you’re in demand as a healthcare worker, you may have more negotiating power when it comes to your contract and some rural assignments may even have additional signing bonuses.
But the biggest financial advantage to a rural assignment is the low cost of living. Housing and other living costs are so affordable that you can pocket a lot of your tax-free stipends.
Without the high costs of city living, you can save more of your travel nurse pay to work toward paying off debt or other large financial goals.
Gain a wide variety of experience
Since specialty and subspecialty healthcare services are less likely to be found in rural care, you have the unique opportunity to treat a broad scope of patients who may have been passed off to a specialist in an urban setting.
Because of this, you can enhance your education and skyrocket your care skill set on your professional resume to advance your travel career. Additionally, your confidence in your skillset and decision making will grow as you gain experience in a variety of areas.
The communities are welcoming
Not only will you make an impact in treating underserved Americans, but you’ll also have the unique opportunity to become part of the community. If only for a few months, you could treat multiple family generations and make lifelong connections.
As Mark Deutchman, MD says, “One of the many rewards of rural medicine is that you can make a difference not only to individuals, but to the community.”
In a career where you’re moving constantly, it can be hard to make friends as a travel nurse. A rural assignment can be a nice change of pace since rural hospitals and communities tend to be more welcoming to medical travelers.
Beautiful outdoor recreation
Not only do small towns offer a strong sense of community, affordable housing, reputable schools, and low crime rates, but they also can provide more time with nature.
Rural areas are often near some of the most beautiful natural attractions. You can enjoy fewer distractions and more sweet silence in the countryside for a healthy work-life balance, mindfulness, and a fresh outlook.
If you’re wondering how you can make an impact in rural communities, start with a simple search on Fusion Marketplace for travel jobs in small cities and towns around the country and see where it takes you.