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Rural Healthcare Can Entice the Best and Brightest

John Commins, for HealthLeaders Media, May 15, 2013

When he graduates from medical school next year, Chisti, 27, will pursue a career as an internist and a population health specialist providing care in underserved and rural areas like Bandon. Eventually he hopes to serve on the faculty of OHSU while maintaining an active practice.

Chisti's story is impressive and even inspiring. It is also plainly illustrates the sacrifices that young physicians are forced to make if they want to provide primary care in rural America.

For starters, Chisti is not wealthy. He had to work summers as a caddie and find other odd jobs to help pay for his education. He will graduate from medical school with more than $150,000 in student loan obligations. And he is planning to enter a medical field that will pay significantly less than he could otherwise earn.

Physician recruiter Merritt Hawkins says that the starting salary for a neurosurgeon in coastal Oregon is about $450,000 while an internist can expect to earn about $190,000 or "probably less if they are practicing at a community health center."

Chisti is a notable exception, but it is not realistic to expect too many young physicians already mired in debt to take up a career path that offers long, uneven hours and a huge pay cut.

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2 comments on "Rural Healthcare Can Entice the Best and Brightest"


Robert C. Bowman, M.D. (5/20/2013 at 10:15 PM)
Challenges remain for all locations and populations with regard to health care. The best and brightest are seen across the wide range of settings. Northern Ontario School of Medicine and Florida State have demonstrated superior medical education using rural, underserved, and community based sites. Top ratings of students, top scores, and top matches indicate this success. Traditional medical education must learn to emulate the high quality mark set by rural medical education for 9 months in a rural location working with interprofessional teams and learning from people and patients - not just books.

Mary K Parker (5/15/2013 at 10:37 PM)
I would work with this doctor in a heartbeat. It's wonderful to work with someone who sees the gaps and deficiencies and isn't afraid to implement an idea, revise, and re-do. He would be an exciting person to work with and for.