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Where to Take Your Medical Practice: The Urban or Rural Community?


As you’re developing your medical career, the question might have come to mind: where do you want to practice?

The most straightforward answer would be in a hospital, but where, precisely? Do you want to work at a hospital at the heart of the state or go somewhere in a quieter, more rural setting?

Your place of practice, whether it’s in an urban or rural setting, can affect the course of your career.


Becoming an Urban Doctor

Choosing an urban setting means working in hospitals or clinics in the city with a population of 50,000 or more. Often, people here work non-agricultural jobs and live in dense housing and nearby suburban residential areas.

Most urban careers are mostly related to physical inactivity. People who work as assistants, clerks, and managers usually sit down for long periods. Others fail to exercise because of factors like crime in outdoor areas and lack of parks, sidewalks, and open spaces. The lack of physical activity makes these people prone to cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, and obesity.

People living in crowded areas are prone to infectious diseases. Chronic respiratory infections like the flu and, recently, the novel coronavirus spread quickly in densely populated areas.


The Pros and Cons of Working in an Urban Setting

If you live in an urban setting, becoming an urban doctor seems like a straightforward choice. Living in one of the country’s most developed cities gives you access to various medical facilities. You can choose to work in large hospitals, small clinics, or start a private practice.

Working in an urban setting means financial stability. With the high population in metropolitan cities, hospitals won’t be running out of patients to treat.

Being an urban doctor gives you access to a wide variety of resources. You have a broad network of doctors in various specialties, helping you find mentors and enhance your knowledge. With medical technology like practice management software and the Internet of Things, it’s easier to manage patients and their conditions. Meeting various patients also allows you to run into challenges that will improve your expertise as a doctor.

However, the variety of resources and the ongoing stream of patients do have their downsides. Although cities house the most prominent hospitals in the country, these facilities also have a stringent hiring process. The competition will be fierce. You’ll be up against hundreds of doctors who aim to work in a world-renowned hospital.


Considering Going Rural

Moving to a rural area involves moving to a city or town with a population between 2,500 to 50,000. Although the definition of rural evokes farms and green pastures, this setting includes a low housing density and distance from urban centers. Rural settings with small populations usually have close-knit communities, so most families have known each other for years.

Compared to people who live in urban settings, people in rural areas are perceived to have a better quality of health. With exposure to green, open spaces, and better air quality, rural citizens show more instances of physical activity.


Should You Become a Rural Doctor?

Working in a close-knit community means providing a more personalized approach to healthcare. Since you’ll be working with fewer patients, it’s easy to remember their medical history and find the right treatment plan.

Word of mouth spreads quickly in rural settings, helping you maintain a constant flow of patients. A satisfied patient can recommend you to a relative or an acquaintance in town, increasing your reach.

Working in a rural community also presents you with various medical challenges. Rural doctors often encounter cases they wouldn’t usually see in an urban setting. Because of the limited number of physicians in the community, you might also end up being a jack of all trades.

If you’re considering becoming a rural doctor, do know that access to medical facilities lacks in several areas. According to the National Rural Health Association, the ratio of patients to physicians is 39.8 physicians for every 100,000 people. Working in a rural hospital means attending to patients who have traveled miles for healthcare. Some of them haven’t had their conditions checked until the symptoms have worsened.

Although working in a rural setting means living comfortably around green, open spaces, the limited access to the city might make it difficult for you to source medical equipment and resources. You might need to be resourceful in coming up with ways to make sure your patient receives the treatment they need.


Whether you’re starting your medical profession or are a few years down the line, the decision of moving to an urban or rural setting may have crossed your mind. The healthcare system varies in both settings, and both have their advantages and disadvantages. Your decision will affect the rest of your career, so take the time to weigh the pros and cons before making up your mind.


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