You know when you’re on a road trip and you pass by those small towns that you’d miss if you blinked? They’re usually accompanied by crops and some kind of livestock. Rural areas like that are home to nearly one-fifth of Americans and yet, only one-tenth of healthcare workers practice there. But why?
Common challenges in rural healthcare
Of course, patients in urban settings face hardship, but not like those who live in a rural community. Providers and patients in rural areas face a unique combination of factors with geographic access, economic inequity, and a shortage of healthcare professionals among the biggest difficulties.
Rural Americans make up more than 20 percent of the U.S. population. 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.
Barriers in transportation often result in missed appointments, rescheduling recurring and continued care, and missing or delaying medications that a patient may need to properly manage their health at home. These barriers can become serious problems that lead to long-term negative health results for rural Americans.
Economic challenges for rural areas
Besides traveling great distances to reach a healthcare professional or hospital, there are also economic barriers that perpetuate the rural healthcare coverage issue. An article discusses the connection between local hospitals and rural economy. According to a report from the American Hospital Association, each dollar spent by a hospital supports roughly $2.30 of additional business activity in that community or city. And for rural areas, this connection between hospital and economy is more impactful since hospitals are typically the main employer of a rural community.
As a result of these economic challenges, the rural healthcare workforce is lower in rural areas. Simply put, if there isn’t a hospital or clinic, there isn’t a need for healthcare staff. And even so, if the money and job need isn’t present, healthcare professionals will go elsewhere.
If that weren’t enough, it is worth noting that even though rural areas share similar challenges as a whole, each geographic area can present its own problems, varying the degrees in limitations and additional factors, such as inclement weather, adding a whole new dimension to the mix. Healthcare provider shortages can also vary geographically for rural dwellers, depending on the area of the U.S.
Rural healthcare needs you
With such a long list of hurdles leading off the conversation, it’s surprising that we’re not deeper down the rabbit hole. The good news is, there are solutions. For example, telehealth seems like a good answer and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) are developing programs to combat the hurdles of rural healthcare, including telehealth projects and management programs.
Still, some rural health centers are unable to take advantage of the benefits of telehealth without the right connectivity, resources, or staff to help. Surely, a bump in the road that will need leveling.
“If you lose one or two [perm] nurses, that makes a difference,” said Audrey Snyder, president of the advocacy group Rural Nurse Organization. “These hospitals are small hospitals, and they don’t have a large nurse workforce.”
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. In fact, unintentional injury deaths are approximately 50 percent 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 hospitals and healthcare facilities close, the need for professional healthcare workers in rural areas increase. If you’re in the market for a new healthcare career challenge, consider switching from perm to travel and take charge of your career in a newly meaningful way.
It feels good to make a positive difference, and that’s exactly what you would be doing as a rural healthcare traveler. But the perks don’t stop there. 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, said, “One of the may rewards of rural medicine is that you can make a difference not only to individuals, but to the community.”
Since specialty and subspecialty healthcare services are less likely found in rural care, you have the unique opportunity to treat a broad scope of patients that may have been passed off to a specialist in an urban setting. Because of this, you can enhance your education and skyrocket your care skillset on your professional resume to advance your travel career.
You have the chance to save lives and learn healthcare techniques you may not have otherwise had the exposure to, but the pros don’t stop there. Thanks to alternative lifestyles and opportunities, working in rural healthcare can increase your quality of life altogether. Small towns offer a strong sense of community, affordable housing, reputable schools, low crime rates, and more time with nature. Enjoy less distractions and more sweet silence on the countryside for a healthy work/life balance.
Find your rural travel job through Fusion Marketplace
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. Fusion Marketplace simplifies the job search, application, and hiring process so you can get where you’re supposed to be faster and without barriers.
By offering complete transparency and maximum traveler efficiency, this one-stop-shop informs you of what you can expect from the job before you even apply. Effortlessly compare travel jobs, benefits, staffing agencies, and more until you find the right rural travel assignment for you. Do your part to reduce the shortage of nurses and other healthcare professionals in the U.S. and find your rural assignment today.
The shortage of healthcare workers is exacerbated in rural communities where the nearest health facility is a road trip away. The only way to remedy the shortage is with professional healthcare travelers like you. Feel good as you make a difference in whole communities, as well as individual lives, and learn skills you may not have picked up in an urban setting. Rural healthcare is calling your name. Are you going to answer?