Physicians practicing in a city or rural setting with a city on one side and a more rural area on the other
Physicians practicing in a city or rural setting with a city on one side and a more rural area on the other

Practicing medicine in a city or rural setting

Read PracticeLink articles from Stephen Leggitt
Stephen Leggitt

Table of Contents

No matter the profession, few aspects influence your daily life more than the location where you choose to live and work. Whether practicing medicine in a city or rural setting, it is a choice that physician candidates should ponder well before they are given their diploma and head off into the world to start building their own professional path. By having a full understanding of the vastly different yet positive options both city and rural locations can provide, you will be able to make a more informed decision.

Positive impact for the community

Regardless of the location, a physician should expect to play an important and essential role in the community. In rural communities, you are not only given the chance to help an underserved population, but you may be providing vital care to patients who may not have had access to a licensed doctor in months or even years. With a smaller community population, there’s also the opportunity to get to know patients on a deeper level, which could lead to more personalized care.

If you instead choose to work in a major city, it does not mean a sense of community will not be available to you. Though it may take a bit longer to find your specific niche, cities are full of diverse groups and welcoming community organizations. This variety provides the ability to pick and choose where you feel best suited to help strengthen the community. In addition, cities provide more options to participate in medical trials and research, which can help you gain an even greater perspective of the people in your local area.

Embracing your lifestyle

While being a practicing physician is a demanding job one must be committed to, there is undoubtedly much more to life than what can be accomplished within the walls of your practice each day. When choosing between city or rural life, first analyze what type of lifestyle fits your personality best. More importantly, how do you picture your future? Do you wish to start a family? What type of environment would be best for you and your family moving forward? Some people thrive in fast-paced and exciting metropolitan areas, while others prefer the slower pace and predictability of a more rural locale. Studying your personality with an eye on the future should help fill in the blanks about what type of lifestyle works best for you.

A team of many or a team of one

When you were in medical school, how did you envision your role in the medical field on a day-to-day basis? Do you feel more comfortable as part of a large team that often crosses paths with multiple departments and has a lot of room for networking and upward mobility? Or do you prefer less oversight so you can focus solely on the important task of tending to patients? A dynamic healthcare organization in a major city may come with a more noticeable administrative presence, but there’s also many more opportunities for professional growth such as promotions, inclusion in medical studies and networking opportunities that can lead to unexpected opportunities. In a more rural setting, you may not be provided the wide-ranging opportunities those in cities will be exposed to, but instead you may be provided the chance to set your own schedule and implement your own specialized approach to patient care on your own terms.

Your view of competition

Are you the type that thrives on healthy peer competition? Do you find yourself working more efficiently under pressure as you race against others to take the next, greater step in your career? Or do you prefer knowing that your position is safe and unchanging and the only competition is with yourself? Similar to your lifestyle preferences, embracing positive competition can be a vital and necessary component for some physicians, while for others knowing that the only competition is within is the best way to thrive.

Working with your available resources

Practicing medicine in a major American city often means having access to the latest healthcare technology, a wide collection of medical specialists to collaborate with and many other tools to help provide advanced patient care. If you find yourself constantly reading about the latest technological breakthroughs in leading medical magazines, a larger city may be a proper fit for you.

In a more rural area, you may struggle with outdated equipment and staffing shortages, which would require you to use creative ingenuity to find a way to provide the best care available for your patients. If you’re the type of doctor that would be enthusiastic about finding innovative ways to successfully treat your patients without the latest cutting-edge technology, a more rural location could be in your future.

Define your values to make the right choice for you

At the end of the day, nobody knows yourself better than you. When you first decided to embark on such a challenging career path, you most likely envisioned what your environment would look like. Being aware and honest with your preferences and your personality traits, and then planning for your desired future, will ultimately be the best initial steps to take to help discover if you would thrive within a major city or in a more rural location.

Read PracticeLink articles from Stephen Leggitt

Stephen Leggitt

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