Meeting the Healthcare Needs of Rural Communities

Meeting the Healthcare Needs of Rural Communities

The looming healthcare provider shortage is becoming more apparent to the nation as a whole, but one group, in particular, has long had firsthand knowledge of this reality: rural communities. Non-urban areas have always had a difficult time attracting and retaining healthcare providers. Although 20% of the nation’s population live in rural or remote areas, close to 90% of physicians are clustered around urban centers. This disproportionate ratio adversely affects the well-being of rural residents, who often face significant travel time and other obstacles in order to see a provider.


While it is challenging to recruit providers for placement in rural areas, Jordan Search Consultants is dedicated to filling this need. In fact, one of our founding principles is to improve population health by helping rural communities gain access to top-tier healthcare providers. Cultural fit is especially important when it comes to successful placement in rural areas. That’s why we spend significant time and effort to explore the needs and amenities within an organization and its community and delve into what’s important to candidates and their families. According to a study published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine, growing up in a rural community is consistently associated with choosing rural practice. At Jordan Search Consultants, we utilize passive recruitment tactics, keeping an eye out for providers who have ties to a particular area – and who might have a desire to return, given the right opportunity.


Another promising strategy to attract physicians to rural areas includes exposing more medical students and residents to rural practice opportunities during their training. Medical schools in several states offer rural immersion programs, where third- and fourth-year med students help care for patients in the community, under the supervision of primary care physicians. These programs expose students to the type of hands-on training they typically wouldn’t experience until residency. Additionally, according to a report from the Association of American Medical Colleges, 68% of physicians stay in the area where they completed their residency. States are taking note of this. Arkansas, Georgia, and Texas have all passed recent legislation to increase residency programs at rural hospitals.


Rural communities are also getting creative in the methods they use to attract providers, particularly Millennials. While small towns can’t offer the same salary ranges as urban areas, they are often able to provide a tight-knit sense of community, a characteristic that is very attractive to today’s Millennial workforce.


Jordan Search Consultants understands the importance of alignment between a candidate’s personal mission and that of an organization and its community, especially when it comes to recruiting for rural areas. Whether we’re assessing a candidate’s strengths and values with in-depth questionnaires and interviews or flying in puddle-jumpers to visit isolated areas in need of providers, we do what it takes to find the right fit. If you need assistance finding candidates for your organization, we can help. Give us a call at 866-750-7231 or email us here.

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