Program Results Topic Summary: Rural Health Care - Recruiting, Training and Retaining Health Care Professionals in Rural Areas

In 2000 over 20 percent of the U.S. population lived in rural areas, but only 12 percent of physicians practiced in them.1 Because the 60 million people living in rural areas tend to earn less than people living in or near cities, health problems associated with poverty, such as infant mortality and many chronic diseases, are often more serious in rural areas.

As part of its commitment to improving access to health care for all Americans, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) has invested in several initiatives to encourage health care professionals to practice in rural areas and support them once they are established.

This report highlights some of these efforts and provides some resulting lessons RWJF has learned.

1 Physician Characteristics and Distribution in the US, 2002–2003 Edition. Chicago: AMA Press, 2002 and the U.S. Census,