How Country Doctors Deal with a Changing World

Study of the declining supply of rural physicians

The People-to-People Health Foundation conducted a national survey of rural physicians in 1993 and 1994 to examine their practice style and supply in medically underserved areas.

Key Findings:

  • Approximately 40 percent of the 1,601 rural physicians surveyed planned to leave their current practice at some point in the future; 22 percent of them within five years.
  • Some 44 percent planned to remain in rural medicine indefinitely, while another 38 percent planned to leave rural medicine altogether.
  • The practice patterns of rural physicians and those who practiced in "crisis areas" (areas with extremely low physician-to-population ratios) were similar.
  • Rural physicians made use of non-physician providers, such as nurse practitioners and physician assistants, and expected to increase their use of these health care professionals.

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