It might seem counterintuitive to us city slickers, but research indicates that the most experienced and versatile family practice doctors are those working in rural areas. Furthermore, women physicians practicing in rural areas are more likely to be competent in a wider variety of areas, and male rural doctors are more likely to be better at gynecological and obstetrical care, than are their urban counterparts.
A report out of Canada entitled “Rural-Urban and Gender Differences in Procedures Practiced by Family Practice Residency Graduates” shows that due to a relative lack of specialists in remote areas, family practice doctors there are forced to treat a wider array of maladies than are city doctors. Also striking? Female doctors in the city ended up doing a greater percentage of “girl problem” types of procedures (IUD insertion, obstetrical care) than their male counterparts, while male and female country doctors pretty much do the same stuff no matter what.
I’ll never forget how amazed I was when I first started hanging out with rural folks 19 months ago, because in my prejudiced city mind I just assumed they’d be, you know, not quite as competent or smart as we urban sophisticates were. Boy, was I wrong! People in rural areas have to do lots more things for themselves. If you’re the only doctor for miles around, you better get smart, and creative – or get your ass run out of town! I think this self-reliance translates into a population that is generally more competent and better at solving problems than are city people. Necessity is the mother of, you know, being a better doctor and stuff.
My grandma Kat, who lived most of her life in a small rural community, had the same doctor nearly all her life. He knew her socially as well as medically, and I think this plays a big role in better health care, too. When your doctor sees you at church, or on the bowling team, she or he is going to be more apt to treat you as a whole person rather than just a list of symptoms.
A caveat here: You still probably have to go to the big city if you need a specialist. Let’s not forget that, and let’s not assume every general practitioner in the city is bad. Now, everybody hold hands and let’s sing…Kumbayaaaaaaa….
The more I learn about rural life, the more I seem to wish I could be part of it all the time, instead of just on the weekends. Speaking of which, it’s time to load up the car and get going to the ranch. Hope y’all have a great weekend! Let me know how you’re doing.