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Why Rural Medicine is the Right Move for New Graduates

Posted in October 2017

When most people hear the term “rural medicine” they tend to conjure up images related to farmhouses and tractors, or towns with only one stop light. And let’s be honest, that could very well be the case when exploring some rural medicine opportunities, but that doesn’t mean you should automatically take the option off the table. 

New graduates, specifically, can take advantage of incredible benefits from rural opportunities that can have huge payoffs later in their lives. From student loan assistance to higher salaries to opportunities to fill leadership roles early on in your career, rural medicine has a lot of bonuses and can be used as a major stepping stone in a brilliant career. The best part is that you might not even have to give up everything you love about city life if you find the right opportunity! Below are several ways rural medicine can take your life and career to the next level.


Student Loan Assistance 

Organizations that are in the heart of major metropolitan areas, or other highly sought after places to live, don’t need to offer many additional perks to get multiple candidates for their positions. The fact that they are located near large population centers generally drives enough traffic to their job openings.

Healthcare facilities that lie outside these highly congested, and highly competitive markets generally offer better and more unique compensation packages to help entice physicians to practice at their facilities. 

One specific benefit that you will often see from rural medicine positions is student loan reimbursement. It’s no secret that medical school can rack up some hefty debt and receiving assistance in paying off student loans can end up saving you thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of dollars in the long run.

According to a recent report from CBS Money Watch the average new physician has acquired $166,750 in medical school debt upon completion. Which means if you are paying 7.5% interest over 30 years you would pay a total of $419,738 before you ever start to see your hard work pay off.

In comes the rural medicine position that is offering you $100k, or more of student loan reimbursement for practicing medicine, which you were going to do anyway, just a little further from the city. So now those loans have been cut back dramatically and the amount you have to pay back out of pocket just became substantially more manageable.


TIP: Find out if the loan repayment is “direct to lender.” If it is, that means you don’t have to pay taxes on it, which in turn can save you even MORE money!


Higher Salary

It turns out that rural medicine programs want to attract more than just recent graduates, so they offer other incentives besides loan repayment programs. Most of the time they offer either a higher salary, more flexible schedule or more time off than a larger program, or a combination of the three. 

Imagine how great it would be if you were able to find a position that paid off more than half of your student loans while you work 4 days per week, and still make more money than your classmates who are paying a lot more for their cost of living. 

Obviously, not every rural medicine position offers that level of compensation and flexibility but the point is there are some amazing opportunities available if you’re open to the option.


Leadership Opportunities

In larger organizations, you will be expected to know and follow the guidelines set forth by the leadership without having much say into what actually comprises those guiding principles. That isn’t to say that your input and ideas won’t be valued, but at times it can definitely feel like you’re just another number.

Compound this with the fact you will be working with, and under, senior physicians that have many years of experience and you can begin to see that if you want to take on any type of leadership role, you have a long road ahead of you if you decide on an urban practice. 

This is often not the case when you work with a close-knit staff that run operations at smaller facilities. With less staff, it is much easier to stand out as a leader and therefore you are more likely to take on leadership roles earlier in your career.


Sense of Fulfillment

We mentioned how physicians can get the sense of being just another number at a larger organization. It turns out, this is how you could feel about your patients as well. With the revolving door of patients in and out of large hospitals and the number of practicing providers it is difficult to truly get to know any of your patients. So much so, that many physicians begin to feel like they are merely treating the symptoms and not the patients.

If you talk to people in the rural medicine community you will likely find that this is not the case. They can get to know their patients, and their families on a more personal level. This deeper connection can often lead to better treatment outcomes, especially when discussing lifestyle changes with your patients.


The Best of Both Worlds

So, what if you could get all of these benefits without giving up the restaurants, shopping, nightlife and everything else that comes with city living? The good news is, you can.  Think about the last time you went on a road trip. One minute you’re traveling through the streets of a bustling metropolitan area and the next thing you know the speed limit increases and you’re in an area that has a little more space, but you really haven’t been traveling for that long.  That is exactly the kind of place you could find the perfect position.

A position close enough to the metropolitan area that you can still enjoy all the pleasures of that lifestyle while practicing away from all the noise.  Most metropolitan areas have rural and semi-rural areas that are within a 45 to 60-minute drive of the suburbs and city.  If you wanted to, you could even live near the city and just commute to work.


Key Take-Aways

As you can see, providing care to the percentage of the population that lives outside of major cities definitely comes with its advantages. The key to finding the right fit for you is to start your search early, know your “must haves” and truly weigh the benefits over the sacrifices. Most times you’ll find that giving up a little now will pay off exponentially in the future. So, remember:


  • The benefits of rural medicine are far too great, especially for new graduates, not to consider
  • Student loan repayments from rural medicine programs can save you hundreds of thousands of dollars if you take advantage of them early on in your career
  • Many rural medicine opportunities will offer better compensation packages than you will find in major metropolitan areas
  • Physician tend to know their patients more in-depth in rural medicine settings
  • You could still live in a metropolitan area and commute thus giving you the benefits associated with rural medicine


 If you would like more information on rural medicine opportunities visit or call 800-735-6721.